When she died, she took his happy ending with her.
It wasn't the way things were supposed to end. She wasn't supposed to be sniped, he wasn't supposed to take her to the hospital faster than wings could carry them, and she wasn't supposed to die on a gurney beneath the hands of six different strangers. But that's the way things did go.
Except it didn't end. He was still alive, and that's the way it was going to stay, until old age or fate took his last breath from him.
Because somewhere along the way, Jack lost the ability to kill himself.
Maybe it was fighting so hard to stay alive in China. Maybe it was those agency bastards drawing him back in time and time again, to do their dirty work, because he knew how to get the job done, and why waste someone else's soul, sanity and well-being when you could just bring back the last person to lose himself to the job?
Maybe it was all of that and more. Maybe he was just destined to never be happy, but always to be.
Jack smirked, huffing. He wasn't some tragic god. He would die. He knew that. But he also knew it wasn't going to be easy. Good…no…innocent people, pure people died easily. His wife died easily – within seconds, so he was told. People like him, him and Renee, they died slowly and painfully, gasping for air and torn between wishing they'd die already, and wishing they could go on anyway.
He leaned against the railing. The metal was cold and smooth beneath his bare arms, and the wind whipped and licked around his skin. The skin over his cheeks was taut from it, and his eyes watered, just barely.
The ship was headed for Ireland. He had taken a plane to England, where he met an old colleague. One of those "we never met but here's your ticket to freedom, pal" types. The second he stepped onto Dublin's dock, he would be Jack O'Reilly, born and raised an Irish American, one that always wanted to live in Ireland where his great grandparents lived.
That was the part he would play, anyway. But he would always carry Jack Bauer within him, and within Jack Bauer would be the bittersweet memory of those he'd lost to death – Teri, Bill, Renee – and those he'd simply lost – Chloe, Tony, Audrey, Kim, his granddaughter.
Would he see them in death, in a heaven that glittered with a golden hue? Somehow he doubted it. For someone who had seen too much of hell, Jack couldn't really imagine a heaven. The most he could comfortably imagine, the most he could hope for, was that death came with…with peace. There was a reason they coined the phrase "rest in peace."
But as the busy, colorful docks of Dublin crept into view, Jack let out a sigh, grabbed the bag that sat by his feet, and slung it over his shoulder. They would be docking soon. He needed to get to the passengers' exit.
Death was somewhere in his future. An hour away. A day away. A week. A year.
Until then, life goes on.
Writer's Note: Another one-shot drabble. I found it half-finished when I was sorting through my document files, so I thought I'd finish it off and upload it. :) Redemption's next chapter should be up in the next day or two, as well. Thanks, as always, for reading! :)