Disclaimer: I do not own the characters Danny Archer, Maddy Bowen, or any of the other characters from the movie Blood Diamond. Nor do I have any claim to the character of Jack Bauer.

For the diehard fans of 24, I realize this can in no way fit into Bauer's chronology.

On a final note, this short entry is meant to be a small addition to the end of the movie Blood Diamond. Therefore, if you have not seen the movie, then this might not be worth reading. Then again, it might not be worth reading even if you have seen the movie. You decide.

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Blood Diamond: The Epilogue

Kono, Sierra Leone

Blood dripped from Danny Archer's hand onto the earth as he reached down to grasp a handful of the red dirt. He held up the dirt to look at it, and he was momentarily back in Capetown, squatting in the field next to the colonel as the man poured crimson soil through his fingers, "That's red earth. It's in our skin. The Shona say the color comes from all the blood that's being spilled fighting over the land." Now it was his blood seeping into the soil. With what strength he had left, Archer felt the corners of his mouth tip up into a wry grin, as the dirt once more slipped through his fingers. The colonel had been right. He would never leave Africa. He was home. With this final thought playing through his mind, Danny felt the fog that had been gathering in his mind begin to overwhelm his senses. Leaning his head back against the wall, his eyes slid closed as the world around him went black.

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Fire seared his body, the flames licking their way from his side across his chest. Slowly his eyes opened, and Danny found himself lying flat on his back in a dimly lit interior. His vision began to clear and he was able to make out his surroundings. He lay on a straw pallet in what appeared to be a sparsely furnished tent. In the center of the earthen floor was a small fire that was currently tended to by a man sitting against the structure's opposite wall. Danny intended to get a better look at his companion, but his attempt to turn his head only blurred his vision as the pain in his chest flared into an intense inferno. He took a deep breath to fight back the ache only to have that simple gesture send another wave of fiery needles dancing across his chest. Danny decided that his best bet was to remain as still as possible, and so he did until the searing pain had eased to a rhythmic throbbing that was bearable, though no where near comfortable. The man by the fire moved closer to where Archer lay, and looked down on him calmly.

"Yeah, you're still alive; though you probably wish you weren't." The voice was unique, like gravel being spread over a silk cloth. It was accompanied by a pair of eyes as blue and penetrating as his own yet lacking the hopelessness that seemed to plague his soul. Sizing up the man before him, Danny decided that they were around the same age. He was powerfully built, probably military, and his accent told Archer the man's nationality.

"You're American," Archer grunted. It hurt to talk, but conversation gave him something to think about other than the fiery darts in his chest. The man gave no answer but only favored Danny with a half smile that would have caused Archer to laugh at his silence were it not for the pain simmering beneath his ribs. He managed another grunt instead before asking, "Who are you?"

"I'm currently the only person who knows you're alive." The cryptic response made Archer smile.

"Ah, a man on a mission. All right, let's see if I've got this straight. I'm a dead man and you were never here, huh?" When his companion nodded in response, Archer continued, "Then I just have one question for you, my man. What does a shadow want from the dead?"

"I need to get out of Sierra Leone," was the answer. "And you're my best bet of getting out undetected." This time Danny did chuckle in spite of the pain.

"I'm afraid you're out of luck, bru. I won't have any friends once Miss Bowen writes her story."

"Probably not," the American agreed. "But you'll manage. Besides you're all I've got."

"You need a job with better benefits, huh? Being left with a dying smuggler isn't good, my friend."

"I had a man in Coetzee's group, but you managed to shoot him when you were busy taking out my target."

"The Colonel." It was a statement and not a question. Danny wasn't surprised. Coetzee had played countries against one another for years. It was just a matter of time before one of those governments caught up with him. The American had to be an agency man sent to take out the colonel quietly. He'd somehow managed to infiltrate Coetzee's men and must have been waiting for an opening when Archer's call had brought the colonel to Kono in search of the pink. "I guess I should apologize for spoiling your fun, huh?"

"Save your breath. You wouldn't mean it."

"I suppose not," Archer admitted before asking, "Do you happen to know if Solomon Vandy got his boy out?"

"Yeah, I followed him up the hill to make sure they got on the plane. Then I came back for you." He didn't add that Archer's efforts to save the Vandies had been the main reason he'd hauled the wounded smuggler off into the bush and out of harms way.

Archer looked down at his bandaged chest before glancing back at the American. "You're a talented man, huh? Not just a mercenary but a doctor as well, right."

He gave a half smile as he responded, "Thank God for that patch job, not me."

"TIA, bru," was Archer's cynic reply. "This is Africa; God left here long ago."

"Tell that to the missionaries that put you back together," the man replied. "Their doctor swears that it's a miracle that you're still alive."

"Yeah, yeah," Danny muttered, deciding to let the comment pass. Then, changing the subject, he said, "Well, my friend, it seems we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum. You wish to remain unknown, but if I am going to get you out of here, bru, I need a name, huh."

"My name's Jack Bauer," the American stated after a brief pause.

"Danny Archer."

"You screw with me Danny, and I'll finish what the colonel started," Jack warned, causing Archer to laugh. The sound ended in a grunt of pain, but Danny still managed to smile, as he replied, "No worries, bru. In this condition, I'm not fit to screw anybody, huh." This time, it was Bauer's turn to laugh at the man's audacity.

"Then we have a deal?" Jack asked. "You'll find a way to get me out of Sierra Leone."

"This is how it works, my friend. I will get you out of Sierra Leone, and you will get me off this continent, huh." Bauer studied him for a moment before giving his reply. "You want to leave Africa? Saving you from Coetzee's men wasn't enough?"

"If I don't get off the continent, bru, I'll still be a dead man," Archer explained. "Maddy will print her story, all right? And Van de Kaap will want blood. I've spilt enough of it over the pink already. It's time I got out, huh."

"All right, you get me out of here, and I'll get Van de Kaap off your trail," Bauer said. Then holding his hand out to Archer, he added, "Agreed?"

Using what strength he could muster, Danny raised his hand and clasped Jack's forearm in a Roman style grasp as he acknowledged Bauer's offer. "Agreed."

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New York City

Danny glanced about the room from his table in the back of Rudy's and studied the usual crowd as he waited for Bauer to arrive. They'd been in New York long enough for Danny to recognize the individuals at the bar as either regulars or tourists. Upon reaching the states, Bauer had wanted him to lay low until he could determine the situation with Van de Kaap and Maddy Bowen's article. The time he'd spent here had allowed him to get some much-needed rest and think back on their journey from Africa. If nothing else, it had been a lively trip.

Surviving Sierra Leone had been a game all its own what with the various clashes they'd had with the R.U.F. and with each other. Bauer still had that honorable streak, something that Archer admired. But when it came to survival, Danny had learned long ago to pull the trigger and ask questions later. Bauer, on the other hand, needed to be sure he was shooting the right man. That was the pressure that came with being on the right side of the law, and it was something Archer hadn't given thought to in a long time.

Now that he planned to live stateside, Danny decided he might need to rethink some of his more questionable tendencies. Not that he couldn't assimilate his previous dealings into the American black markets, but his current aim was to remain undetected and entering illegal undercurrents was not the best way to linger in anonymity. For the time being, he'd have to play it straight and actually take part in some of that clean living that he'd told the Colonel was his secret to doing well.

These thoughts went through his mind as he saw Bauer enter the bar. Jack moved into the room with the caution of a man used to living on the edge. His eyes swept the interior of the bar and continued to do so as he moved toward the table that Archer had chosen at the back of the room. He took a seat that rendered him an unobstructed view of the rest of the bar and waited until the waitress had taken their order before turning to Danny.

"You're in better shape than we thought," Bauer stated. Archer's gaze moved about the room, checking to see if anyone had followed Jack.

"I'm not dead yet, huh?"

"Actually, you are dead," Jack replied with a half smile that would fool even the best of poker players as he dropped a magazine onto the table. It was open to an article entitled "Blood Diamonds: A Trail of Terror from the Jungles to the Jewelers". Danny's eyes immediately went to the author of the article, Maddy Bowen. Picking up the magazine, Archer began to skim through the story about Solomon and Dia Vandy. He turned the page to find a picture of himself smiling up from amongst the print. Reading through the article, he found that Maddy had indeed stated that he was dead.

"How is my man Van de Kaap taking the news?" Archer asked when he'd put down the magazine. He looked up to find Jack watching him closely.

"He's been indicted," Bauer replied. "You gave Miss Bowen the rope to hang him with. There are several in his organization that are no longer as powerful as they thought they were."

"The voice of the people, huh," Archer commented. "So, where does that leave me, bru?"

"You've got two choices," Jack told him. "Van de Kaap and his friends all believe you're dead, and they're too busy trying to keep their heads above water to look too closely into it. So, you can find a nice place to settle here in the states and start over, legitimately." The last word came out more as a threat, but Bauer's voice returned to its normal gravel pitch as he went on. "Or, you can find Maddy Bowen and start over." Jack pulled out a notepad and dropped it atop the magazine that still sat between them on the table. Danny looked down to see an address then his gaze met Bauer's once more.

"You're a tracker now too, huh?" Danny indicated the address with a nod of his head. Bauer gave Archer one of his rare smiles as he threw the smuggler's words back at him, "TIA, Danny." Archer gave Jack a questioning look before Bauer explained, "This is America. I've got a few friends on this side of the Atlantic. Enough at least to find the location of one investigative reporter."

Archer smiled as well before taking a sip of the drink that had arrived while he was reading Maddy's story. "Thanks, my man, but you're wasting your time." Bauer raised a brow at this, but said nothing as Danny added, "She deserves better, huh."

Jack didn't immediately respond, but he looked down at the ring on his right hand. His thoughts went to Terri and his eyes took on a distant look as he told Archer, "They all do." Then, bringing his mind back to the present, he added, "But they didn't choose better men. They chose us." Once more the men fell silent, and Jack watched as Archer debated the merits of seeing Maddy again. He could understand the man's uncertainty. Connections made in the heat of danger and the wilds of the African jungle were not always strong enough to last when once more surrounded by the trappings of modern life. But, in his gut, Jack felt these two needed another shot; they deserved one more chance. "She's just come back from South Africa," he told Archer. "Vandy just returned from giving a speech at a conference in Kimberly. She joined him and his family there. Solomon will address the UN next week, and they're staying at the Millennium Hotel until then."

Archer took another drink. He looked down at the address, his thoughts going to Maddy. I'm really glad I met you too, she'd said in a voice thick with emotion, And I wish I could be there with you. Had she meant it? Would she really want to see him again, or had she moved on? Danny glanced up to find Jack watching him closely, waiting for his decision.

"You want me to just go knock on her door, all right. But what if she doesn't want to answer, huh." It was as close as he would allow himself to admit he couldn't face rejection. Bauer seemed to understand and reached into his pocket to pull out a Ziploc bag. He handed it to Danny and waited as the smuggler realized what it was.

"I took the liberty of searching her rooms," Bauer explained as Archer studied the scrap of paper held between the two pieces of plastic. It was the card he'd given Solomon when Vandy was taking his boy up to meet the plane. It was the card that had Maddy's number on it, and it was also the card soaked with his blood. "I don't think she's moved on yet," Jack was saying as Danny made his observations. Archer acknowledged Bauer's words with a soft "Yeah, yeah." Jack was right. He needed to see Maddy. Downing the rest of his drink in one gulp, Danny made his decision and turned to Bauer to determine when would be the best time to approach Bowen while the crowd at Rudy's settled in to watch the ball game that had just begun to broadcast over network television.

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Millennium UN Plaza Hotel

New York City

Maddy Bowen entered the hotel wanting nothing more than a nice long bubble bath. She wasn't given to soaking in luxurious baths; her work wasn't very conducive to carrying a bottle of scented soap for bubbles in the tub. However, this evening she could use the solitude. Unfortunately, Solomon would be coming to her suite to go over some notes for his address to the United Nations, and this would only give her enough time to return to her room and change from her working clothes into more casual attire. That bubble bath would have to wait, she decided as she stepped onto the elevator, for once finding herself alone as she punched in the number of her floor.

Unbidden, Archer's voice sprang up from her memory. You come here with your laptop computer and your malaria medicine and your little bottles of hand sanitizer. Think you're going to change the outcome, huh? Maddy shut her eyes as the night she'd danced with him on the beach came flooding back to overwhelm her senses. She could still hear the music, see the lights of the bar, taste the native liquor, and then there were the memories of Archer. In spite of her efforts to forget, she felt his arms about her, smelt the scent of spice and earth mixed with cigarette smoke that clung to him even in the depths of the jungle, and she heard his voice. I wish you were here, Maddy.

She took a deep breath and attempted to swallow the lump in her throat. Dear God, how she wished she'd been there too. Even now, knowing that she'd helped draw the world's attention to Van de Kaap's rape of African diamonds, a part of her wished she'd been with Archer when he'd drawn his last breath. But, no matter how much she regretted the past, Maddy couldn't change it. Dragging herself through the memories would do no good. And so, taking another deep breath, she shoved down the emotion that was threatening to overtake her as the elevator slowed to a stop. When the doors slid open, she'd once more regained control of herself and calmly stepped out onto her hall. She passed the door to Solomon's suite, where he and his family were still settling in, and headed to the opposite end of the corridor where her own rooms were located.

She pulled out the key card and swiped it through the mechanism on her door, waited for the click, and then opened the door once it had unlocked. Stepping into the small foyer, she kicked off her heels and bolted the door before dumping her purse onto the small table beside the door. She'd move it all later, but for now she wanted nothing more than to get out of her suit, with its silk blouse and pinstriped skirt and matching jacket, and get into more comfortable clothing.

Maddy moved further into the sitting room when she suddenly realized that she wasn't alone. Standing in front of the window, she could just make out the shape of a man. Even with the sunlight streaming in behind him, obscuring her view, Maddy felt her breathing stop as her eyes took in his height, shape, and the manner in which he stood. She knew it was Archer even before he spoke, though her reporter's brain was screaming at her that this was only a hallucination.

"Hello Maddy," he said, throwing any last thoughts of mistaken identity out the window. He moved away from the windows, out of the bright sunlight, and she could see him clearly. The shock of his sudden resurrection left her weak, and Maddy felt her legs giving way. As if caught in a surreal dream, she felt herself slide down onto her knees as Danny moved across the room. He knelt down in front of her, and she drank in his features. He looked just as she remembered, his skin still tanned by the African sun, his mouth curved in a sardonic smile, and his eyes, the color of a turbulent sea, searching her own with that directness that always managed to impress and unnerve her at the same time.

"Archer…" His name came out in a stunned whisper. "You're…how….I…." Maddy knew she was rambling and took a deep breath before trying again. "I…I thought you were dead."

"So did I," he admitted. Maddy noticed that he his voice almost seemed relieved, as if he'd been worried over her reaction. "I got lucky, huh." She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. "I want to thank you, Maddy. Thank you for meeting Solomon, huh. He wouldn't have made it without you."

"He wouldn't have made it without you either," she managed to reply. Solomon had told her how Archer had stayed behind to hold off Cotzee's men while he and Dia escaped on the plane.

"Yeah, yeah," he brushed off the comment. "Smuggler turned soft, right?"

"No, a man finding that he's not as hard as he pretends to be," she countered, unwilling to accept his flippant description of his own bravery.

"And what did you find, Miss Bowen?" he asked as he smoothed away a loose strand of hair that had fallen against her cheek. "Did you find that good man, huh?" She searched his eyes for a brief moment before responding.

"Yes." Then, her voice certain, "Yes, I did." With that, Maddy reached her hand behind Archer's head and pulled him close. He needed no further invitation. A second later, their lips met and Archer knew. Africa was not his home. It never had been. This, this was where he belonged.

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The End

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