Jim Greer exited his room and headed for the neighboring one, panting ever so slightly. His heart had long since calmed down, and now he felt only a dull ache in his chest.
Jack's door was open, so Greer poked his head in.
Jack was slumped on the floor, head bowed, in a puddle of water. His knees were drawn to his chest, forearms resting across them. His limp hands cradled something small and dark. A towel, sopping and bloody, was coiled next to him.
Greer rapped his knuckles on the door frame. "Hey."
Jack looked up. There were tear stains on his face.
"You okay? You look like crap."
"Thanks. I'll be fine."
"Right. I just talked to November. He's sending a team to pick us up." Greer cautiously crossed the wet floor to Jack's side, bracing a hand on the wall and easing himself down with a grunt. "Where did all this water come from?"
Jack glanced at the bathroom door. He shuddered.
Greer's eyebrows climbed in realization, eyes darting from the filled bathtub to Jack's still-wet hair and clothes. "He tried to drown you."
"Among other things."
Greer gestured toward the blood streaked towel. "That blood belong to you?"
Jack shook his head. "His."
They fell into silence. Greer studied Jack's blank face. The contusions from the convoy bombing had darkened, and fresh ones were blooming on his jaw and around his throat. Strangulation, his practiced mind supplied.
"He saved my life." Jack said at length.
Greer hesitated. "Who?"
Without looking up, Jack plopped a folded pocket knife into Greer's hand. Turning it over, he saw J R engraved on the side.
"From Jimmy. For my birthday." A beat. "That man...he had a--a plastic bag over my face. I, uh, I couldn't breathe. My vision went dark, I thought it was over, you know? Then I remembered the knife in my pocket. I stabbed him. Three times." He huffed. "I've never appreciated oxygen so much in my life." His face became somber. "Jimmy's been dead for thirty-three hours, and he's still saving my life."
Greer returned the keepsake. "He seemed like a good man."
"The best I've known," Jack stated with conviction.
"I'm sorry, Jack."
He nodded, biting his lip and turning away.
Greer put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, searching for words.
After a moment, in which Greer came up with nothing, Jack met his gaze with eyes so lost, he was taken aback. "It should have been me. Why is it never me?"
Greer frowned, a spark of alarm flaring in the pit of his stomach. "Jack..."
Jack shook his head. "No, it's not--I'm not--I don't have a death wish. I just...My team and the refugees on that chopper. Sandrine at that gas station in France. Ali Suleiman. The people in that convoy yesterday. Jimmy." He swallowed. "Why am I still here?"
Greer nodded slowly, coming to understand what Jack was saying. He'd asked himself that very question at various points in his career. "I don't know the answer to that," he began carefully. "Why one man dies and the other lives. I wish I did."
Jack's shoulders sagged, a sobbing breath escaping his lungs as he rested his face on his knees, hands clutching at the back of his neck.
Greer felt his heart break a little."But I do know there's a reason. And I, for one, am glad you are here. The world needs people like you, Jack." He forced himself to be transparent. "There's...There is no one I'd rather have at my back in the trenches."
Jack raised his head, searching Greer's eyes for honesty. He nodded.
"Did Moreno have a family?" Greer asked after a moment.
Jack's face fell once more. "A wife and three kids."
"Jimmy was there for you," Greer mused.
"So be there for him now. They'll need you."
"When this is all over, they're my first stop," Jack vowed.
Greer gave a nod of approval. "You're a good man, Jack."
Jack winced. "I wish I could believe that," he whispered.
"Then take my word for it. I'm known for my honesty."
A wet laugh. "That's one way of putting it." He took a shaky breath. "Listen...earlier? I didn't mean to freak out all over you. But I thought--I thought..." He trailed off, but the rest hung tangible between them.
I thought I'd lost you, too.
Greer tightened his grip on Jack's shoulder. "Well, I'm here, and I don't plan on going anywhere." He got to his feet. "We'll get him, Jack. Reyes? We'll get him," he said with certainty. He offered his hand.
Jack took it.