Title: Everybody Dies
Author:
karebear
Rating:
PG-13
Summary/Notes:
Tony & Jack, Day 7 speculation
Spoilers:
Nothing you couldn't have picked up from commercials during football games
Disclaimer:
I don't own it. Any of it.

Jack shrugs into the bulletproof vest and emerges from a little used access hatch, still agile enough even as he knows he's getting too old for this. The orange light silhouettes the man standing at the edge of the building. He turns around, spreads his arms, in a gesture of peace. Or surrender.

Appropriate that they should do this at sunset, the end of another of those impossibly long days that shapes their lives and changes the world. Those days that shouldn't happen once in a lifetime, but for Jack, and for Tony, there have been too many to count.

He hopes he can end it here, for once and for all. He can't do this any more.

Tony takes a step forward, and Jack can see his face. He looks like hell. The gun in Jack's hand is a comfortably solid weight.

With his left hand he touches the bead in his ear. It isn't connected to anything.

Tony shakes his head, a harsh smile on his face. "No. You came alone, Jack. You came alone because despite everything, you still believe in honesty and honor. You think it's what keeps you a good person, even with everything you've done. You forget, Jack, I know you, better than anyone. I'm the only one who could, anymore. I'm just like you."

"You're nothing like me," Jack growls. His gun moves slightly, tracking Tony's movement. His finger twitches on the trigger, but he doesn't, can't pull it. Not yet.

"Why? Because I switched sides? Because I no longer have the blessing of the American government?" He laughs. "What's government, Jack, really? How many years has it been since you've set foot on American soil? Come on, at least I stayed when everything was falling apart."

Tony's laugh is rough and bitter, and despite himself, Jack wants to drop his gun and run the short space across the rooftop to comfort his friend. Because the laugh is so familiar it aches under his skin. Because this is Tony. And because heís laughed like that, in waking nightmares in unfamiliar beds in more countries than he cares to count, the choking, humorless laugh that is the only way he can prevent himself from crying.

"Why are you doing this, Tony?"

Without shifting his gaze, he is aware of Tony's hand tightening around his weapon. But the gun isn't even drawn.

"Look around." Tony sounds more exhausted than Jack had ever thought a man could sound. Especially Tony, with his perpetual sense of humor and optimism. Even after Michelle's funeral, he'd laughed, telling stories about the things the two of them had been able to do when they weren't at CTU. He'd had more than enough alcohol in him. Did that matter? "What happened to us, Jack?"

It is that question that finally breaks through, and Jack takes a step forward, shaking his head, though his gaze, and his gun, won't break away from Tony eyes. "I don't know, man," he admits, sounding hollow.

Below them, sirens scream, converging in the empty parking lots worlds below them. Just because he's turned off his phone and not told anyone where he's going doesnít mean they couldn't find him. The U.S. Government has gotten good at hunting down Jack Bauer.

When did this all start? Was it when Teri died? Or Michelle? Was it going to jail, charged with treason, charged with defending your wife? Was it China?

Was in the very first time he tortured an innocent man? Or was it when he missed his daughter's birthday, or his mother's funeral?

"We sold our souls for college tuition and a uniform," Tony observes. "We just didn't know it at the time."

What he's saying makes so much sense. But Tony has killed thousands of people today, all of them American citizens Jack has sworn to protect.

"That doesn't give you the right..."

"I know. But Jack, everybody dies."

Tony's movement is sudden, and blurry, in the too-bright light of the setting sun.

Jack's finger curls around the trigger and he pulls it tight.