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gotta bash the brain into submission

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Jack's pretty fucking sick and tired of this day, he thinks he can finally say that with a decent amount of certainty. 

Numerous sirens and the increasingly agitated voice of Mac are what finally pull him away from Annie and out of the fucked-up subway car. Mac looks about as wrung out as Jack feels, and raises an eyebrow in what might be disbelief as Jack helps Annie stumble out of one of the smashed out windows. Jack shrugs. 

After that, it's no shortage of questions, reprimands, more pestering from new EMTs, and the need to deliver another official statement about what happened with the second (third?) bomb of the day. Jack can't stand a second of it, but he almost prefers it in a way. If he stands still for too long he might start thinking about Harry - who somehow got dead even though Jack doesn't know why or how, especially considering Harry was supposed to be stuck safe behind his desk. 

But asking would make it real again, and Jack doesn't want that just yet. Instead, he just tries to focus on remembering all the details that are already getting lost in the quickly fading haze of instinct and adrenaline, and trying to get the words out intelligibly before Mac decides this round is better ended with Jack's early retirement instead of another useless medal or whatever.

Not that Jack wants one, especially if he's gonna have to stand on that stupid stage without Harry - not that Jack's thinking about that.

Mostly he's just thinking holy fuck does he want to go home. 

He's on the last leg of his self-control by the time Mac finally claps some officer on the shoulder and tells him to drive Jack and Annie back to their places. Jack's so out of it he almost doesn't notice until Annie starts tugging on the edge of his shirt to get him to pay attention.

He shares a look with her as they stagger into the car. Jack's not great at reading those mostly, but he's still pretty sure they're on the same page like they've managed to be all day. "Just take us back to mine," he says, and relaxes a little when she nods in agreement. The officer snickers a bit, meaning he was probably one of the ones who showed up while Jack and Annie were still going at it, but Jack's too tired to bother telling him off or cracking a joke about it. 

They lean pressed together elbow to shoulder together in the backseat, and Jack tries to be subtle about thumping his head off the back headrest and resolutely not looking out at the rods. The way she's staring at the movement says he's not too successful, but she's plucking incessantly at the sweatshirt someone found for her to wear - since hers got fucking blown up - so she's not in a place to judge really. He's not too bothered by the looking anyway, at least not until he starts to actually think about how the choice to bring her along with him is going to be a prime way to scare the fuck out of her when his self-control falls to pieces the moment he walks through the threshold. 

He'd like to take her earlier ease when he'd started falling apart on the bus as a good sign, but that's a hard comparison now that all the adrenaline's gone for both of them.

Gonna have to be another example of Jack's "figure it out later" manner of solving problems though because Jack's pretty fresh out of ideas right now. He's pretty good at thinking on his feet, but the well of his ability to plan ahead right ran dry a good handful of hours ago. Probably right around the time he went and put himself under the wheels of that bus on purpose. 

He doesn't actually get a chance to figure out anything though. The officer drops them off, and Jack leads Annie up to his dogshit apartment and lets them both inside. As soon as the door shuts behind them, Annie drops to curl her body around her knees without a sound, leaving Jack blinking blankly at the space where her head had just been. 

'What?' he thinks but can't quite manage to say out loud. His hands are shaking a little down by his thighs - not really a tremor but not quite flapping yet either. "Um," he manages, hum snagging in his throat. 

Annie shakes her head, then keeps shaking it. Then she drops off the heels of her feet and onto her rear and starts rocking fast and quick and upset. Her hands run through her hair over and over, fluffing up the strands in sharp little movements. 

Jack nods in realization, even though she can't see him with her face all tucked away. He'd almost half-wondered, after the carriage full of cans and once they'd made it onto the freeway, but he hadn't really had the brain space to actually think about it. He supposes it makes sense in hindsight; he wonders if she'd realized about him too. 

He doesn't know how to help her though. He and Harry had routines and rituals, fumblingly pre-planned and ironed out over the years. He doesn't want to think about that, and he doesn't have anything like it with Annie yet anyway. Jack doesn't want to just fuck around and make things worse on accident, and also doesn't want to just stare cause he knows firsthand how much it sucks when people do that shit to you.

Her intervention on the bus had been necessary. It still hurt. There's no necessity here anymore. 

No one but Harry ever visits, but Jack locks the door anyway and checks it to make sure. Some of the blinds are open, so he closes those too. Aside from the frantic stimming, Annie hasn't moved or made any noise. He thinks about the way they'd clung to each other all day, but that was before and this is now, and Jack just doesn't know if that would actually help here or if it would just hurt her. He tugs one of the blankets off the couch and sets it close by in case it might help instead. 

Jack's breathing is catching in his throat by the time he finishes with all that, and his hands are moving so fast his wrists protest it painfully. He won't be able to stay as quiet as she's being - he never really has been able to figure out how to - but he doubts his noise will be any more helpful than his staring would be. 

"Gonna, bedroom," he manages to choke out. It's a toss up for him whether he hears right while he's losing it, but he tells her just in case. Then he just barely manages to stumble in there and close the door behind him before his knees give out under the weight of everything crashing down at him all at once. 

If he was able to feel anything but pain, it might be funny that two people just planning to base their relationship around sex are spending their first evening together flipping shit on opposite sides of a flimsy apartment door. 

Unfortunately, Jack's too busy keening sobs into the trashy carpet to find anything funny at all. 

It hurts, all of it does. The scrapes on his heels and calves and arms - put there because he'd been dragged by a speeding bus on more than one occasion today. Fifty miles per hour over solid concrete, saved from worse only by dumb fucking luck and some decent upper body strength. The lingering stench of gasoline makes it hard to breathe, still clinging to the clothes he can't coordinate well enough to get off - the fabric stiff with sweat and dirt and blood.

Payne had bounced Jack's head off the roof of that subway car even before the damn thing crashed and broke to pieces around him and all that aches too. His muscles burn and scream from all the tension and effort he'd put them through. He wants to scrub all the layers of grime off but can't do anything more than scrape nails and carpet over the worst of it, but the itch just burrows deeper under his skin and won't leave. 

He moans - or maybe wails - and the crying doesn't help anything because the inside of him hurts too badly for it to be a relief. Bob dying without any chance to be saved, and that woman whose name he'd never even learned literally slipping out of his fingers, and maybe any of the people whose cars had gotten smashed against the sides of the bus, and fucking Harry. Harry who should have been stuck on desk duty - and who'd even let him go wherever it was he'd gone to face whatever it was that had happened to him? 

And christ, christ, christ. Jack hurts so bad he thinks he could vomit - he was too fucking wasted to remember the last time they'd said goodbye in person. Someone's gonna have to tell his fucking wife, and Jack selfishly hopes to god it won't be him. What the fuck. What the fuck

Harry hadn't done anything but poke fun and grumble about Jack shooting him to get him away from Payne that first time, but she'd thanked him when she'd come barreling into the hospital room that afternoon. Jack was concussed for that still, but he remembers it. Right now, he almost wishes he didn't.

He feels like he can't breathe right, body threatening to suffocate him inside his own fucked-up lungs. "I am not gonna be around to back you up," Jack can remember Harry saying that the other night. But Jack had been the one who hadn't been there to watch his back instead. He knows he can't be everywhere at once, he knows that, but that doesn't change the fact that he should have been there. He should have been able to work faster, or smarter, or something, to be off that stupid bus and there with Harry to make sure he didn't get hurt.

Payne kept calling Harry the brains, but that wasn't really right. Harry thought straightforward about stuff, but Jack thought sideways about them, and that's why they fit and worked together so well. That's why Jack should have been there, wherever there was, or maybe why Harry should have been with him instead. The only time where being on a rigged-up bus speeding down crowded roads without being able to slow down or stop might have wound up the safer option. What the fuck

He's dimly aware that he's bashing the back of his skull against the leg of his bedframe and makes a conscious effort to stop only cause Harry always hated it. Jack's control over his body feels tenuous at best, but he manages to roll away from it a bit, limbs thrashing in a desperate attempt to figure out a way to get the whole world to stop hurting him so bad. 

It's over, and it's done with, but the pain almost can't be worth it. Maybe it would've been better if Jack had gotten squashed under the bus wheels after all. 

He strikes the floor, palm flat and fingers postured rigidly, at the thought. Then keeps doing it. Ortiz balanced out of the floor to help pull him back in, the others crowded around to help, his grip heavy and soothing on Jack's fraying nerves. It's because of that that Jack was there to find the camera so that they could fool it, and everyone made it off the bus just from that. It was worth it; it has to have been. Cause twenty people made it off that bus when they otherwise maybe wouldn't have, Annie included. 

Maybe they are lucky their meeting circumstances sucked so fucking bad. There's almost no way to worry about being seen and found off-putting after all that. 

His head hurts, his palms throb, his hip aches from being pressed into the floor, and all the scrapes and cuts are making themselves known again, but they're straightening out sort of. Reforming into specifics and input that makes sense again, fading back from the thick wall of consuming agony. It all still hurts though, probably will for a while, and Jack wishes it wouldn't. 

The carpet scrapes painfully at his face, but it's better than the clinging wet static of tears smeared all over his cheeks as he stops crying. He kicks and rocks and writhes until his body's just too heavy to move anymore. His breathing starts to regulate inside of the insulating exhaustion until he's finally able to breathe right again. 

He just lays there, dull and quiet in the aftermath. Harry will not be there to haul him back up from it ever again, and the thought almost sets him off another time. But chasing on the heels of all the pain and terror and grief he'd had to hold off all day is all the fatigue he'd been pushing off too, and there's just no escaping either anymore. All Jack can do is weather it. 

He can't piece together when his bedroom door opens, but he rolls his gaze up to find Annie standing over him, a couple of Jack's cheesy mugs in hand and his blanket draped over her shoulders. 

"Water," she says in explanation, then shrugs. She moves sluggishly to sit next to him on the ground, nudging one of the cups next to his hands. She rocks idly - less frantic and urgent now that the worst has passed for both of them - while he tries to locate the energy needed to sit up.

He compromises by getting his arms to work and barely manages to choke down about half the water without getting up off his stomach at all. The other half makes its way into the carpet, but the fibers have seen worse and will continue to do so, so Jack decides he just doesn't care and only shifts to move his face out of the mess. 

He watches Annie watch him instead. Her face is still kinda flushed and blotchy, but Jack probably looks worse. No obvious wounds on either of them, at least, aside from the pre-existing ones. 

"Ok?" he signs without thinking, but she nods. 

"Yeah," she says. "I just uh. I'm." She shakes her head, hair fluttering around her face. Her fingers tighten around the mug and then set it down next to Jack's. "Can I lay on top of you?" 

Something knocks loose in Jack's chest at the question, he nods as energetically as he can manages. Coaxing women to sit on his lap works sometimes, but it's rare that anyone is willing to lay on, or even just spoon, him. 

Annie hums, and Jack echoes it without thinking. The sound compresses it a bit with his ribcage, but he wiggles impatiently when it makes her hesitate. It drags a warblingly amused collection of vowels from her, but she gets back to it, spreading out over him until he's crunched neatly between her and the floor, the blanket draped over them both, her head resting on his shoulder. 

One of her hands wiggles its way under his belly, but she pulls back from doing the same with her other arm. That one stays loose and flutters around uncertainly before tangling into one of Jack's beltloops instead. He wonders if she's thinking about the handcuffs, but wouldn't ask even if he could. There'd be no real reason for it. 

Jack scrubs his face against the carpet contentedly - it finally feels soft again instead of just painful. He tucks one of his own hands under his chest and nudges back at Annie with the other until she tangles their fingers together instead. 

Making their first meeting on a bus rigged to explode, sharing their first kiss in the wreckage of a crashed subway car, and spending their first night together stacked on the floor next to Jack's bed is a pretty funny sequence of events. They're both a little past exhausted beyond words to joke about it, but the matching twin trills of contentment they make are communication enough for now. 

Harry would have found it all absurdly hilarious.