I apologize for the extreme shortness of this chapter, I've never written fanfiction so this is my first try, I just wanted to publish the flavour of the story. Please review and let me know what you think. Usual fanfiction disclaimers apply - I do not own 24, its characters etc...

"I know that I promised to take care of you and protect you... but I'm at a crossroads. Right now, the best way... the only way... to do that is to let you go. I hope one day you can understand. I hope one day you can forgive me. I love you with all my heart. And I always will."

He was broken when he left, worn down in a way that even his stay in China hadn't left him. It wasn't just that he blamed himself, a factor which perhaps one day I could have remedied, but I reminded him of it all, the cold kiss of the concrete floors which had become our only comfort, the damp smell of the air. That was something I knew I could never change, so even once I started to become "responsive, clinically speaking," as my doctor said, I didn't try to speak to him. In fact I had ceased to speak altogether.

I couldn't reach out to him. After all, I often mused, it was my fault, if only I hadn't blindly followed Jack to China, convincing myself at the time that it was a mark of love and not one of stupidity, I would have been there by his side, caressing him through his nightmares and offering reassurance. Instead, here I am, incapable of doing so, and having driven him away through my foolishness. You would think me on my deathbed from the way my father still treats me, and I wonder if it will ever change.

"Audrey, sweetheart, how are you feeling today?" he asked me every morning. Everyday I responded in the same way, I don't know why he continued to ask. I never replied, instead gazing through the window. I had long learnt that meeting anyone's gaze invited unwanted conversation.

Today was different though, I could tell. He pressed me, something he never did for fear that I would retreat further into my shell. "Audrey, look at me. Please?" I glanced at him, unsure of what he wanted from me, before returning to my view out of the window. It changed only subtly, but it changed constantly, both fascinating and occupying me. The fractional shift of the flowers in the sun, the changing curve of the long grasses in the wind. Occasionally, there would be a by-passer.

"Damn it Audrey, I don't know what to do anymore. I need your help. I need you to want to get better Audrey." The whisper from behind me tore me apart, and yet, I knew no remedy for it.

Parents of a newborn child revel in their child's first word, in the same way, Dr Kepper and my father obsessed over my last. Not just my last but my last hundreds of words, they were all the same. "Jack." It had been at times a simple utterance, at others a plea, but it had never changed.

"Sir, with all due respect, I am still convinced that the best course of action at this point would be to bring Jack in."

"As I said, Dr Kepper, that is an option I simply will not tolerate. His return would do far more harm than good."

Or so it went, back and forth, in a number of variations, on an almost daily basis. However today I heard something I never thought I would.

"Sir, if you'll allow me to say this... I realize that this is a delicate matter, however at this point I feel it is necessary to ask if you are allowing obstinacy to cloud your judgement and prevent you from making the best decision for your daughter."

This would no doubt end terribly. Dr Kepper had just crossed a line which even I, as my father's daughter would rarely have dared cross. I returned my focus once more to the garden outside my window, and to beyond it, to the gentle rolling sea.