About ten minutes later, Kendrick fled the room, having shit a figurative brick when Bauer began questioning him. Her boss's normal unflappable demeanor melted away when brought face to face with the growling, scary CTU agent. Of course, knowing the man's reputation, it was not unexpected that Paul would be quite unnerved to be on the receiving end of a Jack Bauer interrogation.

If the rumors were to be believed, Paul got off easy. Bauer merely shot a few rumbling questions at him and gave the impression of looming menacingly while still seated in his chair…a pretty neat trick, Erica thought. One question from Bauer, coupled with a glare that O'Brian added to and Kendrick admitted that he had trouble remembering his pass code, which changed every 2 weeks as a security protocol.

He always wrote his ID down so he'd have access to it.

Raising a hand to her brow, Erica asked, "Is that what's written on the Post-It that's stuck to your monitor?"

He nodded, looking contrite and shortly thereafter was allowed to flee.

"Well," Bauer said, settling back in his seat, "That went…as I expected it to."

"Yeah," O'Brian replied, scowling at her computer before looking up at him. "Whoever purged those files was using an external proxy and bounced all over the place and it tracks back to the main server on this floor. Which is somehow missing any and all access data from the around the time of the shuttle incident."

"Of course," Bauer nodded. "And I'm assuming there was an interruption in the rooms security cameras."

"When isn't there?"

This was why they had such a reputation for being a team, Erica thought. They really did work together seamlessly and it was a little intimidating to watch. They were also completely ignoring her, which she was unsure how to take.

Either they didn't think she was involved with the cover up or they thought she was too ineffectual to do anything about them if she was. She didn't know what to think about that.

Before she could think about it in too much detail, her phone range. Turning her back to the two CTU agents, she lifted the phone to her ear, noting the caller ID that read JACK. "Hey, Jack," she said softy, greeting the priest.

"What?" Bauer asked from behind her as Jack's voice filtered through the phone line, "Good morning Erica."

Glancing back over her shoulder, Erica said, "Not you. My Jack."

The moment the words were out of her mouth, she grimaced. Bauer and O'Brian went back to ignoring her as she turned back to her conversation. "Sorry…there's another Jack in the room," she said, hoping to cover her slightly Freudian verbal faux pas. "What's up?"

V24V24V24V24V

"Are you kidding me? No way! That man has made a career of killing, not catching, but killing, often in brutal and creative ways, terrorists. Which I must state again, is exactly what we are."

When Eric had brought up the idea of bringing Bauer and O'Brian into the Fifth Colum Jack had been wary but supportive but Hobbes had a far more strident and negative reaction.

"Look, I know it might seem crazy, but think of what they could bring to the table. Plus, they have a well documented history of operating under their own rules and not those approved by any government…until after they save the country, then their bosses knew about it form the start," Erica reasoned, then looked at the two men. "Besides, it's not like our ranks are exactly overflowing and we need to do something. Soon."

They all knew the red sky looming overhead could only be taken as foreshadowing of future darkness from above. With Ryan gone, they were down their V expert, though Lisa was trying to help. In the past few days since the sky had gone red, the motherships were a hub of activity and the girl hadn't been able to make much contact.

"But…Bauer is like the boogieman terrorists tell baby terrorist about," Hobbes hedged unhappily.

Jack, still in his collarino (Erica didn't ponder the fact that she now knew the technical term for a priest's black shirt), though he had removed the white clerical collar, asked, "Ever had any dealings with him, Hobbes?"

"Are you kidding me? I never got involved with the sort of insanity that's Bauer's specialty," the mercenary said, then shrugged. "But of course, we all knew about him."

"Still," Erica insisted, "I think it's worth making some subtle inquiries. They already don't trust the V's, so that's more than half the battle right there."

"You have to be sure," Hobbes said. "And tell Agent Kill not to shoot me."

Jack was quiet for a moment than said, "Are you certain neither of them is a V?"

Over their time learning to fight a clandestine war, Jack had finally begun to adopt a more cautious attitude. She supposed his early optimism had been based in a desire to believe in the innate goodness of people, but they'd been disappointed often enough for that outlook to become a bit tarnished.

"Both of them have children, the pregnancies were normal," Erica said with a nod. She'd done some research before coming to meet with them tonight.

With a disgruntled huff, Hobbes said, "Fine, but I'm not gonna be there when you try to talk them into joining up."

"I'll go with you," Jack offered with a smile. They'd been drawn into this fight together and had each others backs throughout. Erica liked having someone she could trust like that.

"Gonna use the 'trust me, I'm a priest' thing, Padre?" Hobbes teased with a roll of his eyes and Jack shrugged. It had worked in the past.

"Okay." Erica checked her watch. "I say we go see O'Brian first. She's less likely to shoot us. Probably."

"Good luck," Hobbes called to them as they left his basement lair. "You're gonna need it!"

TBC…