2007-08-20: DF: Trust You


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Summary: Between a rock and a hard explicative, you're forced to trust even the most unreliable of people.

Dark Future Date: August 20th, 2009

Trust You

Undisclosed Maximum Security Facility

I love you.

I love you, too.

Jack cradles his wife in his arms and kisses her tenderly. When he pulls away, he looks into her eyes and focuses every fiber of his being on trying to say with a look what words could never convey.

It's over. It's finally over. He's giving it up. Packing it in. Leaving the fight to soldiers who haven't grown old before their time.

He still has both his legs?

Waking from the dream forces Jack to face hard, cold realities. He gasps in a breath, then immediately begins to cough. It takes him some time to even out his respiration. His eyes pinch painfully closed. He tries to slide back in his bed so he can sit up, but two things immediately stop him. One is a heavy pair of steel cuffs with a short chain that keep him tethered to the bed's railing. The other is his missing leg, which he's forgotten about in his hazy, recently awakened state. When his stump pushes against the mattress he lets out a low, raspy yelp of pain.

He isn't sure how much time has passed. Maybe hours, maybe only minutes. There's no clocks in here. Just the steady beeping of hospital equipment that's become so familiar over the years. It almost doesn't matter who is in the bed anymore. His wife with a broken back and still as beautiful as ever, or Peter fallen into another coma when he's tried too hard, or even Kate— or rather, Mara at the time, with her broken knee whom he'd carried to safety. It could be anyone. It happens to be Jack.

Nathan sits bowed in his chair, head in his hands and waiting. Maybe hiding. As long as he's guarding Jack, he doesn't have to make too many decisions yet, to the bewilderment of people so used to taking orders from him. Still wearing the clothes from the warehouse, he's still drenched in Jack's blood, and there was far, far more of it than he had even noticed at the time. Severed legs bleed long and fast, almost comical amounts. At least, he's cleaned his hands.

At the sudden sounds of life from Jack, Nathan lifts his head and blinks tired eyes, almost confused. Why is Jack waking up? He's too hurt to live. But no, he is, and the chains rattle. For a moment, he simply freezes, guilty, before pulling his chair closer, placing a hand on Jack's arm. "Take it easy," he advises, glancing at the monitors. It's an ICU situation, combined with the security of a cell. No guards inside, however, just patrolling outside.

Jack eyes blink open disjointedly. They're glassed over. Bewildered. "Whaaaa… ?" he croaks. There's another rattle as he tugs at the cuffs. With his free hand, the one that's hooked to an IV and several pieces of monitoring equipment, he attempts to drag himself away from the tether. His mind is disordered. His vision is clouded. Shapes appear muzzy and vague. He doesn't understand what's happened, or what's going on. He's operating on instinct and he's precariously close to panicking.

Nathan is standing as soon Jack starts to struggle, hands immediately clasping down and pinning the arm with the needle attached. He could call for a nurse, should likely do that, but they'll come running anyway if Jack's vitals start to get dangerous. Well, worse than they already are. Nathan isn't sure he can handle personnel right now, so he attempts to deal with this on his own. "Take it easy, soldier," he says again, a hand moving to make sure he stays lying down - aiming for the shoulder, not the chest, the doctors said Jack had been damaged and he's not sure if that's Cyprus's fault, or those that brought him back to life, or a combination of the two. "It's Nate, calm down. Got some waking up to do first."

There's pain. So much pain. Intense, throbbing aches from Jack's severed leg. Sharp, angry agony from his chest. There's something wrong with his chest that extends past the damage done to his lungs. The heavy bandages wrapped around his torso and exposed knee joint cover raw wounds, but also aggravate them.

Jack gulps in another breath. Have to focus. He's stronger than this. He can master it. Rather than allow it to serve as a distraction to flee from, he closes his eyes and embraces his pain like an old friend. It becomes his anchor. So long as he hurts, he exists. Once he's anchored, he can use Nathan's voice to find his way back to himself.

"God… You're alive. What happened?"

Blindly, Nathan reaches back to pull his chair over so he can sit and still be in Jack's line of vision. He keeps a hand on Jack's arm, as well, sort of in reassurance. What happened? Good question. He has no idea what sort of information Jack is asking for, so he makes a guess. "I had to turn us in," he says. Us? Like he's a terrorist rather than the President of These United States? "You were hurt too badly. I could've gotten us out of there but you would have bled to death on the way. I'm sorry, Jack." Hence the handcuff. Hence the windowless room. Hence the negation drugs running through Jack's blood.

Jack hasn't thought to use his ability yet. He hasn't thought about anything, really. Even this information takes him several seconds to process. "I'm not dead," he whispers incredulously. Slowly, very slowly, he's starting to orient himself. Bits and pieces are coming back to him. The memories are incomplete and out of order. He closes his eyes again and lets them wash over him.

Saying his last prayers to God.

Getting his leg blown off.

Nathan fighting against their attackers.

Playing cards with Nathan and Cup.

Jack opens his eyes again and peers up at Nathan blearily. "Is Cup okay?"

There's a moment of not-quite silence - the monitoring machines are restless with quiet noise the entire time - before Nathan shakes his head, rather gravely. "I had to leave him behind," he tells Jack. "Had to leave it all behind." He glances down the length of Jack's form, feeling his tension wind higher. This wasn't fair. It had been looking up, in a way. They had been helping him. He could have helped them in return, in some way, but this is too early. It's an unfair question, but he asks the injured Saints leader anyway, "What do I do now?"

Jack reaches up to clutch at Nathan's collar. Though he lacks strength, he does his best to haul Nathan in close. Each word is a difficult thing to form. Agonizing. The supply is limited, and they aren't to be wasted if there's a chance they can't be heard. Though his pupils are dilated and the whites of his eyes are heavily bloodshot, there's a fierceness to his gaze when he makes eye contact with his best friend. "You have to kill me. It's the only way."

Wrong answer. He clasps a hand over Jack's wrist, though doesn't yank his grip away yet - just prevent him from pulling Nathan in too close. "I can't kill you," Nathan states. Not won't, not shouldn't, just plain can't do that. Not after throwing his own twisted form of freedom out the window for the cause. Not after actually managing to save his friend, doing one the right. Now, he yanks that grip free of his collar, and he looks a little weaker for doing so, sitting back in his chair. "I can— I can try and protect you while we're both here…"

Jack slumps back against the bed with a groan. His eyes roll back into his head and his lids start to drift closed. Before he passes out completely, he shakes his head and they snap back open. He tugs weakly at his handcuffs again, purposely clattering them a bit. He wheezes in another deep breath, then sighs it out raggedly. "How? I kidnapped you. Did things. Can't explain that away." He smiles crookedly. "Jackie's been a bad, bad boy."

It's true. Men have been killed over lesser things. Despite holding the title of arguably the most powerful man in the world, Nathan feels more than helpless in this matter. But determined. "Jack," he says, trying to translate that determination into his strength of voice, shifting closer to place a hand at the base of Jack's throat, where scars smooth out into healthy skin, trying to meet his eyes. "I'll get you out of here. Right now, you're too injured for me to even think about that, even with your resources." It doesn't actually occur to him that this room is bugged - it probably is - but instinctively, he keeps any allusion towards the Saints vague. "But it'll be okay." He doesn't add that he'll need Jack's help and cooperation, but the man seems too far gone for that anyway. Nathan doesn't blame him.

"Stubborn." Jack laughs weakly. His mirth is genuine, but quickly tapers off into a coughing fit. When he's finished his pale cheeks are flushed and his eyes are watery and out of focus, but he peers up into Nathan's. He drags his hand up to take Nathan's in a surprisingly firm grip for a man in his condition. "Trust you," he grates forcefully. He's starting to tire, but he hangs on gamely. "No stairs, though." It's a weak joke, but it's the best he can do. He doesn't want to think too hard about his leg.

Nathan actually smiles at him, returns the squeeze to his hand. "Yeah, we'll work around it," he says, not really wanting to talk about the leg either. God, they'd left it behind. The evacuation had been like a vacuum. They took Jack, grabbed the fallen agents, and even Nathan had been steered forcibly into a helicopter. Stupid. Hopefully the Saints managed to do something about it. Oh god, the mess they left… he wanders into thought, or so it feels like it.

It happens seamlessly.

That hand squeezes even harder, almost grinding Jack's knuckles. "But you're right," he says, a slightly glassier look in his eyes, a stranger smile, and he leans in close to whisper. "Jackie has been a bad, bad boy."

"No… Stop." Jack pulls weakly against Nathan's grasp, but he's far from being strong enough to pull away. "Nathan. Hurting me. Please." Uncomprehending, he studies his best friend's face, only to find that it has undergone a subtle shift. Now he's looking up at his worst enemy. Nathan never leered at him like that. Never smirked in quite that way. He squinches his eyes shut and starts to tug at his own hand more desperately. "Logan. No. No. No." He repeats the denial over an over, as if repetition will make it stick.

It's a chuckle entirely out of place for this situation, and it rises from deep within his check, quiet, edged with restrained glee and satisfaction. "Shhh," Logan soothes, though that grip doesn't relax. "It's okay. I know what this is like. When the past comes back to haunt you. But I'll tell you what." Squeeze just a fraction harder, almost preternatural strength - but people seem a lot stronger when they don't actually care about hurting anyone. "This can be our little secret. Just like I was, for a while. I won't let anyone get to you, Jack. Not until I'm done with you." And abruptly, that hand is released, and Logan sits back, fixing Jack with a brighter smile. Then, he lifts a finger to his lips, in another, quieter 'sshh'.

"Noooo…" Jack groans he clutches the hand against his chest, which turns out to be a mistake. When it contacts his heavily burned upper body it sends waves of agony shooting through him. He clamps his teeth together. Won't scream. Not in front of Logan. Won't give him the satisfaction. God, he wants to scream, though. He wants it bad. A strangled "rrrrrrrrahh," slips out despite his best efforts. He can't speak, at least for now. He can't fight back and he can't escape. There's only one thing that he can do.

Jack slowly raises his hand, carefully holding it away from his body as he does. It's a slow, laborious process, but he forms a fist and extends his middle finger.

Logan's gaze switches from Jack's hand, then back to his face, a twitch of a smirk twisting that false smile. He could quite easily retaliate, and doubtless, Jack knows that. He could start breaking him, bone by bone, beginning with that finger, and there are wires he can rip out of the wall that will make sure no one comes running. And dear god, that's all Logan wants to do right now. But no. Not yet. That would break the masquerade. "You'll come to realise too that acts of defiance lead you nowhere fast," he says, now standing up again, sharply smacking that hand away before leaning his on the bed railing. "It'll be a learning process but don't worry, we'll have time, Derex." A flicker of a smile, and then he shuts his eyes.

Nathan opens them a moment later, going weak at the knees before steadying himself abruptly. "Fuck," he murmurs, as if realising what had just happened, but the shaky smile he gives his friend is sort of out of place. Clueless. "Sorry. Drifted."

"N-nathan?" Partway through scrunching up his body to absorb punches that never get thrown, Jack cracks one eye open, then the other. "Jesus." He doesn't smile back. He remains tense and wary. Right now he can't think of anything more terrifying than being trapped alone with Logan while he's as vulnerable as he is. "Please. You have to focus. Don't leave me with him."

Jack's panic is slowly receding, but the emotional damage has been done. As they'd feared, Nathan is not completely in control. The next time Logan asserts himself, a firm handshake could be the least of Jack's worries.

Confusion sparks in Nathan's eyes, apparently unaware of the last minute of time that had passed within this room. In fact, he dismissed it as a second or more of simply zoning out from exhaustion, but Jack's attitude is unmistakable. He sits down heavily, hands gripping the railing. A cage would be nice. He can trust a cage because he clearly can't trust himself. "I won't," Nathan says, a very shaky promise all things considered. "He did it without me noticing. You okay?" His gaze quickly darts around, but none of the reflective surfaces within the room contain that scarred, radiation-touched face.

"M'fine," Jack assures him. As fine and as reassuring as he can be with a leg missing and burns covering a large portion of his body. He smiles gamely up at Nathan. If he wants to have any hope of making it through this godawful situation, he's going to have to roll with the proverbial (and possibly literal) punches. He blinks several times and breathes shallowly. Unadulterated fear and adrenaline have a way of sharpening a man's senses. "We're stuck between a rock an' a hard motherfucker, Nate Dogg." His tone is rueful, but he's still smiling.

No Logan. Lying low again. Not taking control completely, which gives Nathan some hope, but all the same. He shakes his head a little. Bigger things to worry about, like the man lying handcuffed to a hospital bed in a maximum security facility. Shit. "Looks like," Nathan agrees, grimly, though there is a flicker of a smile in return. He takes a breath. May as well man up to the situation. "I get you out of here, and they're going to hunt you fiercer than before," he says. "They know your name, your face. We can cross the bridge when it comes but we need to start thinking and thinking hard. I can't just hand you back to your friends even if I could do it tonight."

Jack nods slowly, considering this issue. "Got plenty o' time to think," he agrees. He gestures around the bare room with his free hand, then winces when he he reaches the end of his IV tether and tugs on it inadvertently. "Would go to Brazil, but I heard the Emperor don't like refugees anymore."

Shifting uncomfortably against the mattress doesn't provide any relief for Jack. He knows he's on some sort of painkillers. If he wasn't, he would be screaming right now. Still, whatever it is, it isn't enough. "Trust you," he says again. "You always were the smart one. That what I get for…" He pauses for a wet, rattling cough. "…havin' the bigger pecker. You had to win at somethin'."

Nathan's gaze flicks down to where Jack near dislodged the IV needle, which would cut him off from a lovely painkiller cocktail - as well as the negation drug. He's not about to mention it, it won't really matter in the end. "Best thing you can do right now for yourself is sleep. I'll try and make sure no one touches you for as long as I can." He's the President, damnit, even if he doesn't really associate himself with such a title. He should be able to hold off his own dogs. Unless he comes to realise that he's just another fish in the fast flowing stream, but one can but pray.

Nathan then squints at Jack. "And you don't have a bigger— you know what? You're high on morphine. Get some rest."

Now Jack cackles, even if it's a bit quiet. "Do too."

And Nathan is walking away towards and opening the door now, damnit. "…do not."

"That's not what Mara said."

"…" Door closes.

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