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knitwitfics ([personal profile] knitwitfics) wrote2007-07-04 10:59 pm
Entry tags:

24: Expendable (1/1)

Fandom: 24
Characters: Jack Bauer
Rating: PG-13
Summary: He's always known he was expendable.
Spoilers: 6x01
Warnings: Torture, psychological trauma, angst
Challenges: Written for the psych_30 challenge, prompt #6 - Inferiority Complex
Originally written: November 5, 2006

Even before he stepped off the plane, he was waiting for their demands. They always made demands, never offered anything without a caveat. You haven't eaten in days; we'll give you food if you tell us about how you track your nuclear weapons. It hurts when we cut you there, doesn't it? Tell us about your defense plans in case we were to attack you, and we'll make it stop. 

That's the one he's most used to: tell us what we want to know and we'll make the pain stop. 

Even when he'd seen Bill and Curtis standing there, waiting for him, he'd known there was going to be a caveat. That they weren't just going to let him go. 
You're back in the United States, now here's what we want from you. 

"We're asking you to sacrifice yourself."

Sitting in the airplane hangar, staring down at the scars on his hands, he thinks that he shouldn't be surprised at the payment they're asking of him. It's the same thing CTU always asks: loyalty, duty, even to the point of giving your life. It's something CTU makes clear from the beginning: everyone there is expendable; no one is too important to die. It doesn't matter if you're in the field or behind a desk, whether you're him, or one of those people who died in the CTU bombing or the gas attack, whether you're Richard, or George, or Lynn...or Ryan. 

They'd given their lives for others, a sacrifice not lessened by the fact that it had been with varying degrees of choice. And they'd had lives; friends, family. They had been people, with ordinary lives and extraordinary duties. He isn't like that anymore; not the family man or the government agent. He's a number branded into his skin, a cell number; he knows this now, after so many months of learning that lesson. 

It wasn't the beatings, the malnutrition or the darkness, or the threats. It was the look in the guards' eyes every time they pulled him out of his cell; as they pressed a knife or iron into his skin, as they swung their clubs. It was the look of detachment, not of pleasure at causing pain, but of looking at what they were hitting, cutting, burning and seeing...nothing. 

Nothing. Nothing human. Nothing like them. Just a number, a cell. 

Even if Curtis wasn't standing there with his gun in his hand, Jack would know there's really no choice, no matter how Buchanan phrases it. People are dying and for some reason, he's the price to pay, he's the caveat. Give us what we want and we'll make the deaths stop. 

It's just his life, not much to sacrifice. Not when there's really nothing left of him but a name, a file in a government database, a social security number. It's not really a sacrifice, when what you're giving is nothing. 

And after all, he's expendable.

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