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[personal profile] knitwitfics
Fandom: 24, Milliways
Characters: Jack Bauer, Carl Benton
Pairings: none
Rating: PG
Summary: Carl's always there to lend Jack a hand, even when some rules need to be broken.
Spoilers: none
Warnings: none
Challenges:  For millirific prompt #004: Business

Hands shoved in his pockets, Carl spends a long minute looking through the clear cell partition before he finally speaks up.

“I’m not sure whether I should be surprised to see you in here or not. You always had as much of a knack for getting out of trouble as in it.”

He doesn't really expect Jack to respond, though Carl hopes that he will. Not talking--not even looking at him iss a bad sign. A little difficult to tell if it's through anger or something else, and Carl’s hoping like hell it’s not the something else. Considering the way Jack’s sitting on the cot--back pressed to the corner of the wall, feet braced against the frame, hands resting on his knees all in a vaguely protective position--and the tension radiating off him, Carl’s pretty sure that it’s a vain hope.

The member of security he’d spoken to had mentioned that when he’d taken Jack to the cells, Jack hadn’t fought; that instead, he’d gotten very quiet. Carl isn’t sure there’s anyone else here besides him and maybe a couple other people who know enough about Jack’s past to know what that reaction means.

Touching the partition lightly, Carl asks, “Baby? Can I go in?” He doesn’t have to wait more than a second before the partition shimmers, making enough of an opening for him to step through. The hole closing behind him, he takes a seat on the bed, careful to move slowly. He wouldn’t have thought it possible for Jack to become even more tightly wound at his proximity, but he does; Carl’s pretty sure he even sees Jack flinch away from him.

Watching Jack carefully, Carl says, “He was the one who tortured you in China.”

There's silence for a moment before Jack replies with a “yeah”, the single world hoarse and quiet, but somehow still filled with all the anger that has to be seething inside him.

Another silence falls around them; not an uncomfortable one, though it's still filled with questions on Carl’s side. Eventually, it’s Jack that breaks the silence again.

“How did you know I was in here?” Jack’s voice hasn’t changed, but the fact that he’s talking is something of a comfort. It means Carl's attempts to pull Jack back to the real world are working; out of that safe place deep in Jack's own head that Carl's pretty sure Jack had to have developed during his captivity as the only way to stay sane.

“Trudy. She was one of the people that pulled you off him.”

She’d elaborated more on it than Carl’s about to tell Jack at the moment. Any other time I probably could have pulled Jack off of that guy myself, but this time it took me and two other people. He was going berserk, Carl. I’ve seen guys like that in the middle of an adrenaline rush, and it’s only been when they’ve really snapped.

“Didn’t even see her,” Jack says with a small shake of his head.

“From what she told me, I didn’t think you had; sounded like the only thing in your head was pounding that guy into the ground.”

“You gonna lecture me on the rules?” Jack asks, his tone a little snide. It’s the first time during their conversation that Jack’s voice has held any emotion, so Carl decides to see it as a good thing.

Carl snorts. It’s not so much that he doesn’t believe in the rules, but that he believes there’s always exceptions. “Fuck no. I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t thinking at all, so I won’t even lecture on you real mistake.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“Not waiting until I was in here, so we could do this right.”

That finally makes Jack look over at him, albeit briefly. “What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. You think I don’t want to get my own in on this guy?”

“This isn’t your problem, Carl.”

“The hell it’s not,” Carl says, letting a little irritation come through in his voice, but not giving Jack the full force of it. It's not really directed at Jack, anyway. “You know me better than to think I don’t want to see this guy hurt for what he’s done and that I would gladly do it myself if I didn’t know I’d be depriving you of the satisfaction. We make a plan and we do this together, deal?”

Jack glances over at Carl again, and this time he holds eye contact a little longer as he gives a jerky nod. “Deal.”

“Okay. I think they said you’re in here for 24 hours; that gives us about another fourteen hours to start coming up with some plans. I’m going to go do a little recon. I’ll be back soon, though, yeah?” No way in hell is he letting Jack spend the next fourteen hours alone in a place that has to trigger every phobia the man’s got.

“Okay,” Jack says with another glance. “Tha--”

“Don’t thank me.”

"I won't." Another jerky nod.

The partition opens for Carl without his having to ask for it, and he pauses for a moment. "I'll be back in two hours or less, clock's ticking."

Jack gives him the smallest fo grim smiles in return. "I'll be here."

Most people wouldn't think of that smile as encouraging but then Jack wasn't most people, and for Carl, it was enough.
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