Jack stepped away from the Table of Contents, leaving Barry to the mercy of the SWAT team. He shivered slightly in the cold New York air as he walked back into the theatre.
Martin and Danny were there to greet him. Martin shot him a small smile. Danny's eyes spoke volumes of relief, that Jack was safe; he gripped his shoulder before pulling him into a brief one armed hug. He couldn't bear the concern that showed in both his agents faces as he pulled away from Danny, so he fixed his eyes on an indeterminate point behind them and asked,
"She's fine Jack. EMTs took her to the hospital. She'll probably be under observation for a couple of days before they release her." Martin replied cautiously. Jack struggled to keep his face blank, but something must have shown. Whatever it was, several puzzle pieces clicked into place in Martin's head.
When Van Doren stepped into his vision at the end of the hall, Jack knew this was a talking to he couldn't avoid. He didn't think it would be too bad. He had seen her in a worse temper.
"Agents Fitzgerald and Taylor, could you please step into the other room? I would like a word with Agent Malone."
"Yes ma'am." Both agents replied, not stopping to look at Jack. Silence rang in the hall for a few seconds before Van Doren couldn't stare at him any longer.
"The hell were you thinking Jack?" Jack kept his gaze steady, refusing to look away.
"I did my job."
"Your job does not entail you busting in there like some half cocked junior agent. Your job does not entail you exchanging your life for that of one of your agents. Your job…" Van Doren snorted in derision,
"That wasn't your job Jack, that was your personal life charging into the office again. What were you thinking?"
"I got everyone out. Sam's in hospital. I did my job Paula. It wasn't working the other way. For all I know, she could have died in there." Jack replied defiantly. He knew what he'd done wasn't standard procedure. But even for those few seconds in there, when Barry had the gun resting against his forehead, Jack hadn't questioned his decision. It made looking Van Doren in the eye that much easier.
"And you weren't going to let that happen, were you?"
"I guess not." Jack replied softly.
"I should re-assign you. You know FBI policy Jack. It's a miracle you weren't re-assigned to begin with."
"If that's what you think."
Van Doren sighed,
"Go home Jack, the paperwork can wait until morning. There will be a price to pay for this, mark my words. They're not going to take this breach of protocol lightly." She frowned slightly as she saw him shiver.
"Go get checked out by the EMTs too. Make sure you're good to go." She let go of his hand, and he let it come to rest at his side. She paused before adding,
"Good job Agent Malone."
She walked away, leaving Jack to the clamouring of his own thoughts and the dank surroundings of the revival theatre. The red carpet was worn away where he stood and there was a musky smell coming from the wall beside him. He sat down in one of the chairs, head resting in his hands. His suit jacket was wet from where he'd thrown in on the street. He toyed idly with his badge, not caring whether he would still have it come Monday morning. Mashburn's words kept echoing through his head.
What about Samantha? You seem pretty attached to her.
In that moment…
Except Jack knew it wasn't just in that moment. He would have traded himself again and again, if it meant getting her out alive- getting her out safe.
Jack was so deep in his own thoughts; he didn't hear Danny come up behind him with a blanket from the EMTs. He noticed only when it had been placed around his shoulders, he looked up to see Danny's concerned face hovering.
"I'm fine Danny. Thanks." Danny snorted, taking a seat opposite.
"Sure you are." The two men sat in silence for a short while.
"Did they find Sydney?"
"Yeah, Mashburn had her in his storage unit like he said." Jack nodded, relieved.
"Jack?" Danny said quietly.
"Why are you still here?" Jack looked up at Danny.
"Where else to I have to go?" he asked warily.
"I think you already know that answer," Danny got up from his seat and walked away, leaving Jack alone and more confused than he had been moments ago. He rose slowly from his seat, and dragged his feet all the way to his car. He opened the dark sedan from a distance with his remote and sat wearily in the driver's seat. He stared intently at the confusion that still reigned in front of the Table of Contents before turning the key in the ignition. The roar of the engine coming to life was like a jolt back to reality. The tension and the adrenaline that he'd been holding onto since this whole fiasco had begun were released from where it had been sitting below his shoulders.
He drove absentmindedly, surprising even himself as he took the route to the hospital instead of heading home. It didn't take him too long to get there.
He stopped at the gates to the car park and reached out of his window to collect the ticket. Driving in he simply took the first parking spot that was available. As he climbed out of his car, he winced as his knee buckled slightly under him. He caught himself on the handle above the door before he fell.
Closing and locking the door behind him he walked to the entrance. He stopped briefly at the desk to find out a room number for her.
Making his way up two floors in the elevator, he came to a stop at the door to room 312. The FBI's policy meant that she had a private room. She was sound asleep, her blonde hair dishevelled around her face. Her leg was suspended to keep it elevated and to keep her from hurting it further that night. Jack supposed she would have been given pain killers to help her sleep.
He took a seat by her bed, unsure whether to take her hand or to just sit. She stirred slightly, opening her eyes. She blinked a few times clearing her head. Her smile lit up her face as she realised who sat beside her.
"Hey, sweetheart," Jack murmured reassuringly.
"Jack," Sam replied, "I thought... I thought you would have been home." Jack smiled in reply.
"Thought there was a better place to be."
Sam face sobered up immediately,
"Your wife Jack, and your kids too. They must be worried sick. What are you doing here?"
"No, Sam. I had a wife." His voice was bitter, but when he looked at her, the only thing he felt was content. He leaned in and hesitated inches away from her face. Sam made the decision for him closing the gap and kissing him. He ran his hands through her hair, resting his thumb on her cheek. His mouth was warm against hers, tasting of coffee.
He broke the kiss, leaning back into his chair. Sam looked at him wistfully, tempted to straighten his tousled hair. She was tempted to straighten his collar too, despite how delightfully rumpled he looked. She knew they had to talk though.
"And your kids?" she asked,
"I'll still be there for them, like I have been these past nine months. This doesn't change that."
"This can't work."
"Why not?" Jack asked, his heart sinking. Maybe he had been foolish to come here, to still hope after everything he had done. Today had made him realise a lot of things. He had been silly to let her go the first time, especially for Maria. If she didn't want him here, then he would leave. He had to make sure.
"If you don't want me here, just say the word Sam. We can pretend I never came here."
Sam stared at him, heart beating loudly in her ears.
"I… don't want that." Jack let out the breath he wasn't even he was aware he was holding.
"I'm very glad," He replied drily. She held out her hand and he took it with both of his. He ran his thumbs across the back of it.
"So… does this mean we can give it a shot?" He asked hopefully. She eased herself up and forward, but couldn't reach the remote for her bed. Jack picked it up and handed it to her, Sam took the remote but stopped him from moving further away from her. She grabbed his collar and pulled him back in for another kiss.
"What was that for?" he asked. Sam shrugged unabashedly.
"Making sure this is real."
"No reason for it not to be."
Jack was afraid to say anything more and Sam just enjoyed the silence between them. She didn't want to say anything to ruin their rare moment in perfect unison.
"When I heard you… were shot," Jack said quietly, "My mind blanked. I couldn't think of anything else."
He snorted derisively.
"I wanted to call in SWAT. Van Doren put a stop to it. Then Richard came out. I stopped being able to sit on the sidelines. I couldn't watch you… get more hurt. I couldn't do it. When Barry let me in, and I saw you for the first time all day, I could have cried. I don't think you understand how happy I was to see you. Even as pale and peaky as you were, you were safe. When I picked you up and sat you on that outside bench, all I thought was, she's safe."
"Jack…" Sam began, but Jack put his hand up to silence her.
"I wanted you to understand. Maria will always be the mother of my children. But it's been a long time since she's been anything more. That something more has always been there with you. From the day I hired you, to our last kiss. Tonight re-affirmed everything I've ever done, and it brought me to this moment, to you, here in this hospital. I'm not asking to dive back into what we had. Just a chance to make up for what I did, and maybe regain what we had…"
"I understand." Sam replied, "One day at a time?"
"That's all I can ask."
"Can you… sit here with me?" Sam asked and Jack nodded. He took off his jacket, and tie, folding them and putting them on the chair. Sam wriggled painfully over to the left, giving Jack room to slide onto the bed beside her. He wrapped one tentative arm around her shoulder, and she leaned into him, resting her head on his chest.
She breathed in the scent of his cologne, noting that it hadn't changed since she last held him this close. She rested one arm at the small of his back, and the other across his stomach. She held him close, until she heard his breathing even out. Without looking, she knew he was asleep. Content, she closed her eyes and let the pain meds take her away.
When the nurse came in, about an hour later, she couldn't bring herself to wake them. She simply turned off the light and shut the door behind her.