kaitlia777 (kaitlia777) wrote in jc_christmas,
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Happy Xmas (The War is Over)

Title: Happy Xmas (The War is Over)
Author: Kaitlia777
Rating: PG
Disclaimer:  Don't own 'em, just taking them out for a spin.
Summary:  For jc_christmas secret santa 2009

For noalinnea

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!


 

Christmas was a time for families.  Time to be with those you loved and those who loved you.  It was a wonderful idea but more than a little depressing when the body count of those you loved outnumbered the living.  Usually, that didn’t happen till one was well into their twilight years.

At 43, Jack Bauer had been there for several years.  He had his daughter, Kim and a grand daughter, but for years the father/daughter relationship had been strained and, though recent events had prompted a reconciliation, she was spending the holidays with her husbands family.  So again, he was going to be spending the holiday alone.  Granted, it would be in his apartment and not a Chinese jail cell or a tent in the middle of the African jungle, but alone was alone.

So, a couple days before Christmas, he was feeling more than typically broody.  He didn’t think he was expressing the disquiet he felt, but his co-workers at the New York branch of the CTU seemed to sense something.  And they didn’t like it.  The techs and analysts were treating him with the caution one would show around a bear with a tooth ache.  There were actual fights when anything needed to be physically delivered to his office, cause no one wanted to be the one to bather him.

When ever he went down to the training rooms, his field team, the agents who normally sparred down there, tended to disappear.  But he figured that might have something to do with the little accident in the gym involving Tom Carter, Jo Reese and himself.  No permanent damage was done, but Tom was limping and Jo sported a rather spectacular black eye.  Even Brian Hastings, the agency’s director had taken to giving him a wide berth after that.

Then there was Chloe O‘Brien, the CTU’s lead analyst and general go to person to run comms.  She was also his best friend, whom everyone looked at with awe, as even Hastings posed his orders as requests when aimed at Jack.  Chloe how ever, never seemed to hesitate to boss him around in matters that didn’t involve weapons, physical violence or tactical operations.

Most of the staff in New York were still trying to figure out exactly how their friendship worked, as, to the uninformed,  they might indeed seem an odd couple and neither of them were willing to chat about it.  On the surface, they didn’t seem to fit together. 

On one hand, you had blond, tanned, blue eyed, obviously handsome Bauer, who, if you could believe the rumors (and everyone did, cause none of them seemed too far out of the realm of possibility when one considered the shit they actually knew he’d done), was the sort of guy you could drop into a war zone with nothing but the clothes on his back and a day or so later the war would be over because all the bad guys would be dead and Bauer would be asking what was next.

On the other was brunette, never seen the sun pale, quirkily pretty Chloe, famous for her lack of interpersonal skills.  There didn’t seem to be a computer on the planet she couldn’t hack, a satellite she couldn’t  reroute, or a dumbass colleague she couldn’t cow with a scathing glare.  She hated field work, but there was a rumor that she had taken out an assassin with a automatic rifle once.

Everyone knew they had worked together for years.  Maybe that was why she got away with occasionally switching his bacon cheeseburger for a salad, or ordering him home to tend to a cold.  Professional respect, maybe.

Jack and Chloe knew there was speculation about them and couldn’t give a rats ass.  When you’d saved the country, hell the world, from the brink of war and annihilation several times, you tended to stop caring about office gossip.  Other than on the random occasions when Chloe used their curiosity to mess with the minions minds.

This was why, despite the fact that an entire staff of highly trained federal agents, many of who were heavily armed and mean, were reduced to creeping by his office as if on eggshells, Chloe felt in no way beholden to such actions.

On December 23rd, not too long after lunch, she strolled into Jack’s office without concern, interrupting what was obviously a vital contemplation of the grey office walls.
Dropping into the guest chair, she looked over at him, then pulled a little holiday Snickers out of her pocket and tossed it at him.  It hit the center of his blue oxford clad chest.  “Where’s your holiday spirit, Jack?” she commented, unwrapping another candy for herself.

The candy had bounced off his chest and landed in his lap, so he picked it up an raised an eyebrow at her.  Chloe was wearing an emerald green, turtleneck sweater that looked very soft…it may have been cashmere.  He always thought she looked quite pretty in shades of green.  “Ho Ho Ho,” he intoned, quirking a small smile at her and opening the tiny candy. He knew she knew he liked Snickers, was a big fan of the caramel and nougat.

After a moment of enjoying their candies in silence, she said, “So, we doing Christmas at my place or your’s?”

He nearly choked on a mouthful of peanutty goodness.  “Sorry,” he coughed, fishing a bottle of water from one of the desk drawers.  “What?”

“Morris’s parents are flying him and Prescott to Disney for Christmas, so it’s you and me, unless you plan to abandon me too.”

Chloe was fully aware that his holiday plans included a TV dinner alone in his apartment.  What she was not aware of was that he was feeling particularly mopy and planning to actually watch sappy holiday movies for most of the day. So really, the invitation was really a rescue, unbeknownst to her.

Unbeknownst to him, she had checked his Netflix queue recently, and that only solidified her decision to basically strong  arm him into spending Christmas with her.  Plus, since Morris had Prescott for the holiday, it would be nice to have someone around.

“Sounds good,” he replied, and that was how he found himself, at the end of the day, preparing to leave for a few days at Chloe’s.  She had decided it would just be more practical for him to stay at her place, rather than having him run all over the city. 

As they were leaving, together, not an odd occurrence, he stopped at the duty desk.  Most night’s he said, “You can each me at home.” or “You can reach me on my cell.”, in case there was some emergency that required he be called in.

That night, he said, “You can reach me at Chloe’s.”

And boy, did that little tidbit of news fly into everyone’s inbox just as fast as the duty officer’s little fingers could type.

***********************************************************************

Both Chloe and Jack pried themselves on being exceedingly capable individuals who could accomplish just about anything when they put their minds to it.  Together, they had saved the country, hell, the free world multiple times.  There wasn’t a computer Chloe couldn’t bend to her will or an enemy Jack couldn’t terrify.

But they both were willing to admit to possessing next to nothing in the way of culinary skills.  If pressed, Chloe could boil some pasta, but all her sauces came straight out of the can and while he could doctor an MRE into something fairly palatable, Jack couldn‘t seem to translate that skill into the realm of real food.  Their disastrous joint attempt at cooking a turkey was a testament to that.

Thus, they were both big fans of ordering pre-made meals from delis, markets and restaurants. A big ham and all the sides was ordered for Christmas day, to be picked up the afternoon before, obviously, and, after much discussion, it was decided that they would get lobster for Christmas Eve.  Dropping one in a pot of water was within the range of their abilities, as was baking potatoes for a side dish. 

Desserts were more fun and they spent a good deal of time wandering around a bustling bakery. Cakes, cookies, pies of any and every imaginable flavor were on display.  The place was crowded and they separated to cover more ground, but when Chloe didn’t appear by the counter at the meeting time they had arranged, Jack went in search of her.

He found he standing in front of a table displaying towering cones of stacked, puffed pastries surrounded by a web of spun sugar.  The confections, called croquembouches, looked like edible Christmas trees.  They were, he admitted, both cool and tasty looking.

“I think we should get one of these,” she said as he stepped to her side, not taking her eyes off of the treats.

He smiled and asked, “Which one?”

According to the little description cards, the pastries were all the same, but were filled with a variety of decadent sounding crèmes and custards. Chocolate, vanilla, almond, peppermint mocha…they all sounded good.

As a pair, they circled the table, reading the descriptions of available fillings and the choice of sizes of the actual croquembouche.  The paused, considering one particularly impressive tower and Jack said, “Think we could ask for a mixture of flavors?”

Chloe looked up at him and a smile split her face.  “I think that’s an excellent idea.”

At that moment, one of the more aggressive shoppers hip checked Chloe, sending her stumbling into Jack’s chest.  Arms coming up to support her, Jack cast a dark look at the offending woman, who quickly moved away.  “You okay?” he asked, expression softening as he looked down at the woman in his arms.  Neither of them seemed to be in a hurry to separate and, over the smells of the bakery, he caught the jasmine scent of her hair.

“I’m fine,” Chloe said, meeting his gaze from the safe circle of his arms.

People swirled around them, shopping, shouting and celebrating.  Outside, a light snowfall had begun and, just audible above the din, Christmas music was being issued from a small radio.

“A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong”

Others had no idea how often dangers converged and threatened their safe little lives.  Jack and Chloe did, had made it their mission to keep the innocent folks out there safe and blissfully unaware of how tenuous their existence was sometimes.  That sort of pressure took a toll on them, which was why simply standing in a bakery, holding each other during a small peaceful spell was so special.

“And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear”

The fact that it was Christmas was a bonus.

“And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young”

Despite the fact that both their families had made other plans, they had each other, like always.  They’d spend the holiday’s together, a first, but they knew each other well enough that it didn’t seem at all awkward.  Jack knew about Chloe’s intense dislike for the California Raisin’s claymation Christmas special and she knew not to order Chinese food on Christmas Eve, despite it being a tradition.

A friendship forged in nuclear blasts, hails of bullets and blood, trust born of instinct and cultivated over the years, they hadn’t even realized when they became something more.  Not that they had acted on it, or even been aware of the changing nature of their relationship.  But there they stood, embracing and completely comfortable in each others personal space.

“A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, over
If you want it
War is over
Now... “

In that peaceful moment, they had no war to fight and reveled in their shared warmth.  Neither was sure who pressed their lips to who’s, but they knew it was right.  No typical, first kiss awkwardness followed and Chloe laid her head against Jack’s shoulder.  Nothing and everything changed in that moment and she found herself perfectly okay with that.

She glanced at the line by the counter, then raised her head to look at Jack impishly.  “I suppose it would be an abuse of authority to use our credentials to push to the front of the line.”

He chuckled.  “Yeah, I think Hastings might frown upon that.”

“Well,” she said, stepping back, but grabbing his hand and pulling him over to stand in the queue.  “I suppose waiting isn’t the end of the world.”

“No,” he agreed, wrapping his arms around her from behind, gently pulling her back to lean on his chest.  “It’s the beginning.”

She smiled, thinking this Christmas would be a great on after all.

 


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