Belcheck hangs up the phone and looks at Anton.
“He says that she was moved and they won’t tell him where they moved her,” Belcheck says, summarizing the call.
“What now, then?” Anton says.
“He said there are two locations he thinks they may take her,” Belcheck says. “He’s going to go to one now.”
“And the other one?” Katya asks, joining the conversation.
“He wants us to go there and see if they show up there.”
“Where is it?” Anton asks.
“He said it’s close to us,” Belcheck answers. “He’s going to text the address soon, but we can get moving.”
The three get into the car and Anton starts the engine. He turns the car around and drives away from the shipping container. By the time they turn onto the main road, Belcheck’s phone dings.
“We have the address,” Belcheck says, looking at the screen. “It’s about five minutes away.”
“Good morning, Sandra,” a well-dressed man says to the secretary behind the desk. He is in the office early, as usual.
“Good morning, Mr. Rosen,” comes the reply.
Mr. Rosen continues to walk passed Sandra into the office on the left. He closes the door and sets his briefcase on the desk. He walks over to the small refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of water. After taking a sip, he walks behind his desk and sits down. He reaches over and the whir of the computer fan ramps up after pressing the power button. He takes another sip of water, replaces the cap, and sets it down.
He pulls the briefcase toward him, unlatches it. After pulling a couple manila folders out, he closes the briefcase and sets it on the floor. He sets the folders in the “out” box on his desk just as his computer chimes, signaling that it is booted up and ready to go.
He clicks to open his email program as his phone beeps.
“Mr. Rosen,” Sandra’s voice comes over the speaker of the phone, “you have a call on line 1.”
“Can you have them call back?” Mr. Rosen says. “I need to get to these responses before the meeting.”
“I tried to tell him that,” Sandra replies, “but he insists. He says to mention Tony Almeida.”
He stops at the sound of that name. Intrigued, he answers, “Thank you, Sandra.” He presses the button on the phone and speaks, “This is Rick Rosen. Who am I speaking with.”
“My name is Jack Bauer…”
Before Jack can say anything else, Rosen cuts in, “I remember you, Jack,” Rick says. “Tony and Michelle used to talk about you a lot. I have to say that Almeida and Bauer are two names I never expected to hear again.”
“I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll get right to business,” Jack says. “I’m in need of some property.”
“I’m not in the real estate business any more,” Rick answers.
“I know,” Jack says. “But you have connections. The property I need is for a new…shall we say, business.”
“I’m pretty busy to go looking for property for you,” Rick says.
“But you’re a smart businessman,” Jack replies. “And you’ll be paid your fair share for your help.”
“Fifteen percent of the purchase price,” Jack says. “That’s twice the average rate for real estate.”
Rick thinks a moment, trying to put the pieces together. “I don’t know about this so-called business, but I have a feeling that there is an increased risk. I’ll help for twenty-five percent.”
“Twenty percent. Final offer.”
“Fine. Twenty percent.”
“Now let’s talk details,” Jack says. “I need a property on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Something with a large warehouse and office space, preferably relatively isolated but with good transport links and not directly under flight paths for LAX. It needs space for at least one helipad, preferably two. Discretion is important.”
Erik walks out of his office and heads toward the lounge, hoping to find Kate there. He finds both Kate and Chloe sprawled on the couch, dozing.
“Kate,” Erik says, waking her from the light sleep.
“What’s it going to take to get some sleep?” Kate asks.
“I’m sorry,” Erik says. “I was wondering if you had a sitrep on Elizabeth.”
“I talked with my contact about ten minutes ago,” Kate says. “He found the prison where she was at, only to find out that she’s been transferred somewhere else. He’s trying to find out where, but hasn’t yet. He’s meeting with someone that may be able to give him a location.”
“Anything I can do to help?” Erik asks.
“Not right now,” Kate answers. “He’s our best and closest chance right now.”
“Ok, but we both know that the longer it takes, the better Russia will be able to hide her. Does Jack know?” Erik asks.
“Not yet,” Kate says. “I thought I’d wait until I heard back. He’s had enough bad news, I was hoping the next news would be good.”
“Okay. Well I need him to be left alone for a while, he needs to rest up. If you get any news, I want to hear it first. Don’t disturb Jack. That’s an order.”
Kate is puzzled by Erik’s adamancy, but is too tired to query it so she just nods and closes her eyes, resting her head back on the cushion.
Before Erik has even quietly closed the door behind him, she is asleep.
Jack hangs up the phone. He hopes that Rick Rosen will follow through on helping him find the right property to use as his team’s base. He only has some sketches in his mind, but he is forming an idea to create some sort of logistics business as a front, with his team inside. The property will look to function as a normal business to the average passer by, but he will be able to direct the day-to-day operations of his team as they assess and track terror-threats.
He remembers hearing about Rick after Tony Almeida’s near-death incident at CTU. Rick was Tony and Michelle’s partner with their security company. Jack learned Rick was able to grow the business and then sell it a few years later for a good profit. It was not just Rick’s connections to find a property, it was also Rick’s experience of operating a security company, since this building would have to be extremely secure while maintaining a business appearance.
His mind mulls over one other call that he wants to make. He hasn’t seen or talked to Kim in over four years. He has avoided contact with her to protect her; but now that he’s been pardoned by both the U.S. and Russian governments, he can at least make a call.
But not now. He has taken his oxygen mask on and off several times to make these last few phone calls, and the lack of oxygen is both adding pain in his lungs and draining him of his already waning energy. He doesn’t want to be in this condition when he talks with her.
Anton pulls the car over to the side of the road then throws it into reverse. He looks behind to back the car up behind a small group of trees. It doesn’t hide the car perfectly, but it does a good enough job for the circumstances.
The road is clear – no cars in sight in either direction.
“How far is the prison from here?” Anton asks.
“About two kilometers,” Belcheck replies. “According to Seminov, they couldn’t be there yet and this is the route they’ll take.”
“If they’re even heading to this one,” Katya adds.
“We should be far enough away from the prison not to be seen,” Belcheck continues, “and we should be able to see them coming.”
“So what’s the plan if we do see them?” Katya asks.
Belcheck looks at Anton then back to Katya. “We’ll get ready to intercept. The objective is to recover Elizabeth with no loss of life. Either Russian or American. Jack wouldn’t want it any other way. Understood?”
“We’re going to take on a Russian military vehicle?” Katya confirms. “Is this what Seminov said to do?”
“He doesn’t know,” Belcheck says. “The less he knows, the better for him. I’m going out for a minute.”
“How are we supposed to take on Russian soldiers if we can’t shoot them?” asks Katya after Belcheck leaves the car.
“We’re hoping there’s only two or three soldiers transferring her,” Anton says. “Just make sure you’re fully loaded to take out the tires. We have flash bangs and smoke grenades. It’ll be fine.”
Katya looks nervously across at Anton. She isn’t used to all this and although she can handle a gun and respects the sentiment of non-lethal force, she is scared at how this might turn out.
Anton doesn’t notice Katya’s consternation, he is watching Belcheck as he walks down the road, looks both ways, and then pulls something out of his bag. He sees him adjust something on it and set it down in the middle of the road. Belcheck then walks back to the car and gets in.
“What is that?” Katya asks.
“Backup,” Belcheck says. “If we can’t stop the vehicle, it will.”
“Can I ask you something?” Katya asks Belcheck, who nods.
“Why are you helping to get Elizabeth?” she asks.
“It’s not for her,” he replies. “I owe Jack a lot.”
“How about you, Anton?”
“She’s my aunt,” Anton replies. “She married my mom’s brother.”
“Jack has found a cousin as well as his mother? That is good news,” says Belcheck with a rare smile.
“What will we do if they don’t come this way?” asks Katya.
“Then all we can do is pray that Seminov can do something,” says Anton.
They all three stare up the road, waiting for the armored vehicle to appear.
Jack is trying desperately to fight the panic of being alone. He can hear the heart monitor quietly reminding him that he is not in control, and he takes some deep breaths through the mask to try to relax.
It doesn’t seem to make a difference and Jack can feel himself becoming more and more agitated.
He purposefully focuses on slowing his breathing down. Steadily the blips on the screen finally start to space out a little. His heart rate is still much higher than it should be, but it’s progress. Jack knows he can beat this and that he needs to sort it out before anybody finds out, otherwise he’ll put Heller’s plan in jeopardy.
The door opens and Erik comes in and immediately Jack feels calmer. Erik glances over at the heart monitor screen. “You okay?”
Jack nods and takes off his mask. “Yeah, I’m fine. What’s up, any news on Elizabeth?”
Erik shakes his head, “Nothing yet”
Erik hands Jack the A4 manila envelope he’s brought with him. “Heller wanted you to have this. He made me promise to give it to you, whatever you decided.”
“What is it?” asks Jack, taking the envelope.
“I don’t know. Heller just said it was personal.” As he is talking, Erik walks back to the door. ”So I’ll give you some space.”
Jack feels his heart rate quicken pace again at the thought of being alone once more and he can see that Erik is looking at the rapidly increasing rhythm of the pulse line on the monitor.
Jack looks down at the envelope in his hands, all the while, concentrating on slowing his breathing again. On the front there are just two typewritten words, ‘JACK BAUER.’ When he looks back up, Erik has gone and a nurse is walking through the door. “I need to fill out some charts, Mr. Bauer. I’ll just be over here.” She points to the desk in the corner on the far side of the room and goes to sit down.
Jack nods, mindful that Erik has something to do with her presence. He already feels calmer now that there’s somebody else in the room, and he focuses back on the envelope.
Intrigued, he turns the envelope over, breaks the wax seal and pulls out a single typed sheet of A4.
I needed to write to you as there are some personal things that I want to say.
Firstly, don’t think too badly of Mark and what he did in London. He has a good heart, albeit he was misguided about you. I went to see him in prison last week and he deeply regrets his actions. He feels personally responsible for Audrey’s death despite me telling him it was nobody’s fault. I’ve known him a long time and he is truly a good man. He spent months working with Audrey after she came back from China, helping her get well again. During that time, she talked about you often and Mark never walked away. He was a loyal and devoted husband to Audrey, despite knowing that he could never compete with your ghost.
I want to thank you, Jack, for all the years that Audrey and I had together. Years that we wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t risked your life to rescue us from Habib Marwan’s kidnappers. I didn’t know at the time that you were not just up against the terrorists but up against the clock and the impending air strike that had been ordered. It speaks volumes about who you are as a man that you carried on despite those odds, and I am eternally grateful to you.
I am devastated at Audrey’s passing but soon I won’t remember her. She on the other hand, would have had to spend years mourning the loss of my health, and she would have had to watch my mind slowly wither and die. Nobody should have to suffer that.
I never said this to you but there are two things that happened between us the day you rescued Audrey that I am very much ashamed of. The first was what I said to you at CTU. It was cruel and unnecessary and the only defense I can offer is that I was so very scared for Audrey because of what she had been through and how very ill I could see she was.
The second was stopping you taking Audrey away. Although I still believe I was right to do that, the way I did it was at the cost of our relationship, and I regret that very much. I had tremendous respect for you as a man and for your principles, and I took advantage of that, knowing that you would ultimately do what was right for Audrey. I know you were willing to sacrifice your life for her and that means so much to me Jack.
There are a few things I have learnt over my lifetime. I know nothing will ever bring back those we love. I know that the world is a dangerous place and sometimes terrible things happen. Nobody is to blame, it’s just the way it is and all we can do is try our best to keep our country safe and free. I know I can trust you to do exactly that. One other thing I know is that I would be very proud to call you my son.
I was sorting through all of Audrey’s things and found this in amongst her personal papers. I thought you should have it.
In Heller’s looping handwriting, the letter was signed simply, Jim.
Jack swallowed, trying to keep his emotions in check. He could feel tears pricking his eyes and he blinked them away.
He turned Heller’s letter over but it was blank. He looked in the buff colored envelope again and at the bottom was another, smaller white open envelope. He pulled it out and took out the folded sheet inside it.
He unfolded the piece of paper and immediately recognized Audrey’s handwriting. With his heart thumping in his chest, he started reading.
My darling Jack,
About a year ago, my father told me what happened after you rescued me. That you came to see me and he told you to go and not come back. It took me a long time to forgive him for that. I know that you would have stayed with me and cared for me for as long as it took but that my father convinced you that it wouldn’t be the best thing for me, and because of that, you were prepared to walk away. I love you all the more for that act of selflessness.
You are the most amazing man that I have ever met and I will always treasure the time we were together. I need to tell you that I have today, made the decision to marry Mark. He asked me last week and this has been one of the hardest decisions for me. I care about him very much and I know that he will be a good husband and will stand by me, and so I cannot ask for more. Maybe one day, if we ever see each other again, you could meet him. I think you’d like him.
This means I need to say goodbye to you, Jack, but you will forever be in my thoughts and in my heart.
Jack carefully puts the letter back into the white envelope but can’t contain his emotions any longer. He starts to sob convulsively and the oscillations on the heart monitor screen become rapid and erratic.
The nurse is by his bedside within seconds and she speaks to him in a calming, gentle tone while injecting a syringe into his IV.
Moments later, Jack’s world gently fades to black.
Katya, without taking her eyes off the road says, “It’s not coming is it.”
“Give it a couple more minutes,” says Anton.
In silence, they all stare up the road but it doesn’t take long before the spell is broken when Katya gives a deep sigh.
Belcheck looks at his watch. “We’ve given it enough time. It’s been nearly twenty five minutes for a journey that should be less than ten.”
“What else can we do?” asks Katya.
Anton, with an air of hopelessness mutters, “Hope like hell that Seminov has another play.”
I enjoyed reading Part 2. Thank you Joshua!