Brian Hastings had spent the majority of his adult life working diligently towards attaining the respect, power and influence that he held as director of the New York branch of the CTU. He had assembled a staff of skilled, competent professionals to wok under him and carefully cultivated an air of aloof cool to project an aura of leadership an keep a professional distance between himself an his employees.
It was only appropriate.
For the first several months of his command of the re-established CTU, things went smoothly. Of course, they didn't have a whole lot of action, just training and Intel analysis.
Then the sky fell, bombs went off and the stress and danger ratcheted up about 10,000 notches. His staff of hundreds, as well as countless other government agencies, the NSA, FBI, CIA, to name a few, were on the case. Each and every one of them trying to stop any further terrorist attacks from a Ki Pao terrorist cell.
An who had succeeded in saving the day. The CIA and their spooks and informants? No. The FBI with their huge staff and networks? Nope. The CTU? He wished.
NO, national, possibly global Armageddon was averted by a retired grandfather and a stay at home mom. The thought made the corner of Hastings's eye twitch. It just wasn't right.
Neither was the fact that, when the crisis had passed, President Allison Taylor, a big fan of the pair, reinstated Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brien to the CTU without consulting Hastings, who felt more than a little snubbed by this.
He was also unnerved. As their supervisor, he was now responsible for the two of them and frankly it was a daunting prospect. Neither was known for being a team player (outside of their own little two person team) and they were more or less a rogue force.
But they got the job done. Each of them had their own reputations and as a pair they had foiled countless terrorist attacks, not always while in the employ of any government agency. And that sort of skill tended to make people nervous. It wasn't everyday you met a couple of people you were pretty damn sure had the ability to overthrow any government with a laptop and a glock.
Not that Hastings thought they would do that, but they could. Apparently, President Taylor felt the same and decided having them on the payroll was preferable to having them wander around completely unchecked. As CTU employees, there was a chance of maintaining at least limited control over them and, failing that, they might be able to keep track of their activities, maybe take part in the ops.
After all, it would look bad if word ever got out that a pair of civilians repeatedly did the jobs of several intelligence agencies. Bad, bad press and all.
So today a rogue element was being introduced into his nice, carefully chosen staff. Bauer was to take over as head of field ops and O'Brien as lead analyst and comms operator. The last agent in charge of field ops had died in the Ki Pao attacks, but Dana Walsh was extremely, and understandably, pissed about her demotion for inexperience and the general cluster fuck she had made of the intel gathering before the recent attacks.
Dissent among the ranks was not something Hastings liked to deal with , so he'd just stand back and see how things played out. Sometimes, being a leader meant allowing your people to work things out on their own. At least, that's what he told himself, as he looked out the window of his office over the main floor below. Things were about to get interesting.
"It's completely unfair! I mean, sure, she worked for the CTU before, but her experience is years out of date! I should be lead analyst, not some working mommy who got lucky! Do you have any idea…."
Rolling his brown eyes at what was becoming Dana's daily anti-Chloe O'Brien rant. Nick Mankuba tried to catch Sophie Lennon's eye. The younger woman looked extremely uncomfortable as Dana Walsh nearly shouted her anger in the red head's ear.
Taking pity on his more likeable collegue, Nick said, "I'm sure she's up to date, Dana. I mean, the woman basically directed an entire CTU type op from her laptop. Girl got some skills."
Dana turned her scornful gaze on him. "Maybe, but she's been out of the game for a long time. This isn't the sort of job you can just stumble into. It should be mine!"
"You were interim lead, Dana." Jo Reese entered the break area with Cole Ortiz, Dana's fiancee. He flinched as his fellow field agent continued, "Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before the higher ups found someone qualified who didn't run screaming for the hills once the letters CTU were uttered."
If looks could kill, Jo would have been a rapidly cooling corpse on the floor as Dana shot her a look so full of hate that everyone else took a step back. "I didn't run," Dana hissed.
"Neither did we," Sophie murmured, then tried to hide behind her coffee cup as she continued, "But we aren't complaining about our jobs."
Before Dana could explode again, Cole placed his hand on her arm and said, "I'm sure everything will work out, hon. I mean, when we applied for positions here, it's not like we were looking for supervisory positions. Bauer and O'Brien are some of the best. We can learn from them."
While Dana stared at her husband-to-be as though he had grown a second head, Nick asked Jo, "So, you looking forward to working with Bauer? Hear he's something."
"Damn straight!" Jo grinned, then pulled out her PDA. "An old friend of mine e-mailed me this. It's from the old LA CTU. He was an agent there."
"And he didn't want to rejoin when we opened here?" Sophie asked leaning over to see what Jo was pulling up.
"He said something about the life expectancy of your typical CTU field agent and dodging enough bullets already… Here. It's a list of Jack Bauer Facts, ala Chuck Norris. Tim said the agents at the old CTU had a message board dedicated to this."
"Awesome," Nick grinned, taking the PDA as everyone, including DAN crowded around. "Fact: The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives."
Sophie giggled. "If you are still verbally capable of telling Jack Bauer that he is hurting you, then trust me, he isn't."
"If Jack Bauer had been a Spartan the movie would have been called "1"," Cole read, chuckling a little nervously. He was a good agent, but in contrast to his future wife, he was very mellow and not the most daring person around.
"There are three leading causes of death among terrorists. The first two are Jack Bauer, and the third one is heart attack from hearing Jack Bauer is coming for them," Jo snickered. "Told you I'm gonna like this guy."
"You like anyone you think'll let you blow shit up, you little lunatic," Cole muttered with no malice.
"Ha! Aha…Jack Bauer is the only human in the world with the ability to make Chloe O'Brien drop the personality disorder and patch him through…See! How can someone like that be a department head? You have to work well with others."
"Um, read the next entry, Dana," Nick sputtered. "Jack Bauer knows about this list. Jack Bauer knows who entered that last comment. You want to know too? Look around. See who doesn't work here anymore. Carry on."
"Well, that was nice of him, protecting her feelings like that," Sophie said, before reading, "Jack Bauer quit for just five minutes, and a nuclear bomb went off."
Pointing at an entry, Nick read, "Withholding information from Jack Bauer is now classified as a suicide attempt."
"Passed out, surrounded by terrorists and nerve gas, and handcuffed to a table leg, Jack Bauer laughed to himself and said, "I have them right where I want them." "
"If a suspect mentions your name, while being interrogated by Jack Bauer, you have a 3.26% chance of surviving the next 3 hours."
" When Jack Bauer says, "I don't know if I can do this anymore", the statement must be loosely translated as, "I can still rip off your head, I just don't know if I feel like I can shit down your neck at this time." "
"When life gave Jack Bauer lemons, he used them to kill terrorists. Jack Bauer fucking hates lemonade."
"If Jack Bauer's gun jams, it's because he wanted to beat you with it."
"Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice. Jack Bauer would meanwhile do something important."
"Jack Bauer is currently involved in a complex law suit with the California Department of Justice due to their attempt to ban Jack Bauer as an "Assault Weapon". Jack maintains he is primarily used for hunting and target shooting, and is quite safe to have around families. But statistics don't lie…Well, that's a little mean spirited."
" When Jack Bauer goes to the airport and the metal detector doesn't go off, security gives him a gun."
" When Jack Bauer calls for backup, he isn't requesting more men. He's telling you to back the fuck up."
" When the president runs out of options he/she says: "Get me Jack Bauer, immediately.""
"Killing Jack Bauer doesn't make him dead. It just makes him angry."
"Jack Bauer set an ordinary flash memory card to self-destruct. Don't ask how he did it, he's fucking Jack Bauer."
" Jack Bauer wasn't born, he was unleashed."
"In the 18 months where Jack Bauer was presumed dead, Tony Almeida was put in a coma, Michelle and David Palmer were killed, a major hurricane raveged the Gulf Coast, and Rob Schneider made another movie. See what happens when Bauer isn't around?"
"In high school Jack Bauer was voted "Most Likely to Kill the Foreign Kid"... and "Best Eyes.""
"Explosions do not kill Jack Bauer, they just get stuff out of his way."
"When Jack Bauer is running, you'd better fucking run as well, if he's chasing you, you should just shoot yourself."
"Messenger bags owe Jack Bauer for single-handedly stealing them from the clutches of emo fashion and making them genuinely cool. Same thing with hoodies. And crying."
"Janie's Got a Gun, but Jack Bauer has the Voice."
"Stephen King is scared of Jack Bauer."
"Jack Bauer only wears body armor to protect the men behind him." By the time Nick read that fact, they were all chuckling, even Dana, who was no longer freaking out.
It was then that Hastings ambled into the coffee room to top off his coffee before the start of the work day. Seeing the cluster of agents, he asked, "What's so funny?"
"Just getting insight into our new collegues," Jo grinned, scooping up her PDA and Thermos. "Well, I'm gonna head down to the field room."
As she exited, Nick shouted, "Forward that to me!"
Dana and Cole exited with Hastings and Sophie sighed as they heard Dana mention O'Brien's name again.
"Well, whatever O'Brien's like, she's gotta be more fun, right?" Nick asked. "Or at least less hostile."
Sophie grabbed up her mug. "I'd settle for less annoying."
"Your lips to God's ears, my little ginger friend."
"Let's go watch the show."
"Once more into the breach."
Jack Bauer looked to Chloe O'Brien, standing at his side as they rode the elevator up to their new workplace. Already, he had issues with the place. The LA CTU had been bunker like, low, smaller target. This place was in a damn high rise. In New York.
Yeah, that just didn't sit well in Jack's paranoid little head.
"Yeah," he said with a shrug before setting his shoulder squarely and letting out a breath. "Back to work."
"Any idea what your team is going to be like?" she asked with a frown. "The CV's they sent me were less than useless."
"If they're anything like Hastings…afraid. Very afraid. I mean, one be-heading and they never let you live it down."
Chloe's eyes flew wide and she burst into laughter as the elevator doors rolled open to disgorge them into the main office floor. Suddenly, all noise in the room stopped and she quickly quieted as well.
All around them, agents were staring. A blond woman looked positively venomous, while a doe eyed redhead and an attractive young African American man peered hopefully over their screens. A dark haired man and a young, vaguely Asian looking woman in the rougher clothes of field agents had paused by the stairs leading up to the offices. Hastings was peering out, frowning through the glass.
"Well, not too awkward," Jack murmured as they stepped out of the elevator.
Chloe tipped her head towards him and murmured, "I bet at least one of them will jump out of their skin the first time you come charging through the comms floor, roaring about…whatever."
"Maybe I'll just have be a little restrained for a while."
"Nah," she said teasingly, "I kinda like it when you do that."
"Really. It's very grrr."
Jack laughed and indeed, a few of the CTU agents twitched harshly. Chloe grinned. This could be fun.