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[personal profile] knitwitfics
Fandom: 24, Milliways
Characters: Jack Bauer, Christine Chappelle
Pairings: Jack/Chris
Rating: PG-13
Summary: The hardest thing is watching him fade away.  Written as an additon to the "Poorly-Sick-and-Dying!Jack" entry for the 28 Flavours Meme.
Warnings: Angst, character death
Originally written: April 27, 2006

He's sleeping when she comes in with the tray; not surprising, really. He sleeps a lot these days; with the painkillers and the disease eating away at him he's hardly strong enough to walk downstairs on his own. It's like some kind of cruel joke, considering the feats of endurance he'd been capable of only a couple years before.

She places the tray on the bedside table, crawling onto the bed and sprawing out next to him, leaning her arm on the pillow, trying not to wake him. She strokes the patches of short, fuzzy hair sprouting on his scalp--it had fallen out during the initial treatment, started growing back in, then started falling out again when he'd relapsed, and Hank had started the chemotherapy again, at a lower dosage this time. Not enough to try and kill the cancer eating away at Jack's bones; that hadn't worked, and it was only making him sicker. This wasn't to try and save his life, just to stretch it out a little longer, eking out every week, every day, every hour that they could.

There are times when she can hold onto that; when she can take comfort in having him here right then and there. But there are times when she wants to scream, wants to stare God or the Devil in the face--whichever was to blame for this--wanted to scream obscenities at them and pound them with her fists, to treat them like they'd treat a silent suspect at CTU, with every ounce of cruelty she could muster.

And there were a couple, rare times that she did scream; walked out to the woods to that one clearing where she and Jack had had a picnic so many years ago when they were just starting out together, and she stood there, screaming as loud as she could, crying aloud as tears rolled down her cheeks until she couldn't cry anymore. Anything not to cry in front of Jack. Never in front of him; he didn't need to see it.

It just wasn't fucking fair. She'd had to watch her mother die of cancer slowly, her father hiding it and herself denying it for too long. She'd lost her father suddenly, without warning, without a chance to say goodbye until she got here. And now only three years and two months after their wedding day--three goddamn fucking short years he was being taken away from her too.

She can feel tears rising in her eyes and he tilts her head back, closing them and trying to will herself to calm down. No tears in front of Jack; this has to be hard enough for him.

He stirs, turning his head so his cheek rubs against her hand. For a moment she has one of those moments of clarity, where she realizes just how different he looks now; she's gotten used to the dark circles around his eyes, the pale skin and jutting bones through the slow transformation over the last few months. At times, though, she can clearly remember what he was like before all this, and she clings to those memories, terrified that when he's gone, she'll only remember the way he looks now, the ghost that isn't really Jack at all.

He opens his eyes, looking up at her, his smile tense. "Hey, sweetheart."

"Hey," she says, giving him a weak smile in response. She glances up at the IV bag hanging on the pole next to the bed. "How painful is it?"

"Not too bad. Like a badly strained muscle, but all over."

She nods. "Maybe I should talk to Hank about upping the dosage though," she says, inside wondering how their world has shrunk to treatments and twenty different pills in the morning and carefully calculating the nutritional benefits of every meal. At that thought, her eyes start watering again, and she turns her head to look out the window.

"Chris?" his voice is concerned--concerned for her, which nearly made her laugh. She looks back at him, trying to blink away the tears.

Slowly, he rolls onto his side, one arm coming up to drape around her waist, as he leans in to kiss her. She puts an arm around him, trying not to hurt him, but wanting to hold him as closely as she can, to hold on to him so that he can't ever leave her.

Kissing him back, desperately, tears start trickling down her cheeks, impossible to stop.


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