Finding Jack

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Chapter 17

Even with one leg in a walking cast, Natasha could still kick ass. Jack discovered that when the first thing she did after his comment was kick him right across the jaw. It ached, and he knew it was going to bruise spectacularly. He even swallowed back a bit of blood from where his teeth had made contact with the side of his cheek. In the movies they always spit it on the floor, but really, this building was dank enough without him leaving his DNA everywhere.

“You’re an Agent?” Boris still looked like he couldn’t believe it. “ created the weapon!”

“And you know how to walk on two feet. We’re both equally impressed,” he replied, thinking the man resembled a gorilla at the best of times.

“Shut up, Seamus!” Natasha snapped, levelling a dangerous look in Jack’s direction. “Do you have any idea what we did to the last agent we found under this roof?”

Tate. Tate was an agent. Or if he wasn’t, he’d paid for Jack’s presence. Someone had to take the fall, apparently. He’d been blaming himself, but the realization didn’t make him feel any better.

“You murdered Tate,” Jack supplied.

“Yes, and by the end he was screaming, giving me all the information I needed to know that he wasn’t alone. When you went AWOL, I knew you were the other mole,” she supplied, looking crazed then. “And I’ve been planning your imminent demise ever since. It looks like we have a change of plans, but I promise you that it’s still going to be the most painful thing you’ve ever experienced.”

She struck out then, faster than Jack thought someone outside of a Bruce Lee film could manage. He barely managed to flinch away from it, bringing up his hands to block her kicks and hits. They were moving of their own volition, muscle memory again taking over where his mental memory could not. Right kicks meant his left arm was up, left his right, same for her hands. He was too busy keeping her from hitting him to manage a hit of his own, but he was far too busy to worry over that. Boris, for his part, shifted from foot to foot in his peripheral vision, clearly watching for his opening. He was admittedly afraid of Boris, and he knew that if both of them decided to double team him, he was going down. His side was burning, and he was sure he’d pulled couple of those stitches, but again, he was a bit too occupied to worry over such things.

Finally he saw an opening, aiming his own kick at the same point he’d caught Natasha last time she’d gone up against him. This time, he heard the crack. It was like a gunshot. She screamed, crumpling to the floor and holding her leg in pain. Before he could get his breath, a heavy fist connected to the side of his head and Boris was on him, enraged now. Really, if there was nothing going on between Boris and Natasha, it wasn’t because Boris didn’t have feelings for her. This kind of rage only happened when someone you loved was injured or hurt in some way.

Boris attacked like a well oiled fighter. He was using his weight behind his hits, and even Jack was starting to feel a little punch drunk. His head was spinning as punch after punch managed to catch him where he wasn’t blocking. He landed a few hits of his own, but every one of his jabs was much less forceful than that of his counterpart. Boris finally hit him so hard that he toppled over, nearly landing on Natasha. She reached for him, ready to claw his eyes out, but Jack managed to kick at her legs again and she was in a whole other world of hurt. Boris stomped towards him, lifting his heavily booted foot and bringing it down on Jack’s left ankle before he could move. It felt like he’d just been hit with a cinder block. His entire leg screamed in pain and he brought the limb up to curl around it in the primal instinct of protection. If it wasn’t broken, it was dislocated. Either way, he wasn’t going to be able to run on it, let alone get back up and beat Boris into submission.

Boris knew it, too. He was looking down at Jack with distain, clearly prepared to end the man’s life. Jack knew this was a suicide mission when he’d called the man, though. He was reaching for his pocket where he’d stowed the part from the radio, ready to blow them both sky high now that he had a trigger.

“Any final words, Doc?” he asked, sounding livid.

Jack caught the flash of movement behind Boris and smirked a bit.

“Yeah – duck.”

Right then, something collided with the back of Boris’ skull and he hit the floor, hard. Melanie was standing behind where he’d fallen, fire extinguisher in her hands. She looked freaked, like she couldn’t believe she’d done that, but Jack was glad she had.

“I thought I told you to go,” he offered, letting Mel help him to his feet once again.

“You did say that, didn’t you?” she huffed, taking most of his weight. “We need to get out of here.”

“I’ve been saying that all day,” Jack agreed, gingerly putting weight down on his foot and nearly collapsing the pair of them. “The problem is, I don’t know how we’re going to manage that.”

“Lean on me. I’m not wispy,” she commanded, adjusting his weight more across her shoulders.

Jack did as directed, hopping along on his good foot and leaning his weight off on Melanie whenever he was mid hop. She was right, she had this.

“You think this is over?” Natasha shrieked. “This will never be over!”

Jack caught sight of the emergency vehicle lights shining through the windows, heralding the arrival of whichever law enforcement agency was showing up to the party. They’d swarm in and start the arrests soon and then it would be over.

“Keep telling yourself that,” he replied over his shoulder. “You know what your problem is, Moira? You just don’t know when to give up a bad idea.”

She glared at him, rolling on the floor with a wince and crawling in the opposite direction. Good. She could crawl all she liked, but that still didn’t change the fact that she was going to be arrested pretty quickly. At least they’d set her leg before dragging her off to prison.

“Come on, Jack. We need to get you to a hospital,” Melanie directed, tugging him along towards the exit again.

“I’m fine, Mel,” he sighed, nearly missing the hop.

“You sure as hell don’t look fine,” she replied.

Alright, so his ears were ringing still, and his face hurt. So did his ribs and his side...oh, his side was really bitching at him. He was sure he’d pulled every stitch the doctors had put into him. Maybe Mel was right. He just hated hospitals so damn much.

“If I’m a good boy, will you give me a sponge bath, Nurse Mel?” he asked, causing Melanie to snort a bit hysterically.

“If you aren’t a good boy, I’ll sic Moira on you,” she challenged and it was Jack’s turn to snort, which really did not agree with his head.

“Aspirin first, sponge bath later,” he offered tiredly.

A moment later, men with SWAT gear and rifles were filing into the room in a standard sweep pattern that Jack thought he probably knew well once. They didn’t have any agency markings, though, so they were probably federal agents. Great. If they were here, Rand was probably right behind them. Swell.

Mel nearly dropped him when one of the men leveled his gun on them and approached cautiously.

“Please! I’m Melanie Blake! I’m a nurse! This man needs attention!”

“Mel,” he sighed, looking the man in the eye. “I’m Agent...”

Now, what had Rand called him all those days ago?

“Quinn Dawson,” he finally supplied. “Call me Jack.”

The man seemed to consider him for a long moment before lowering his gun and reaching for the radio on his shoulder. “Sir? We have Agent Dawson and a civilian here.”

“ Escort them out,” was the distorted reply from the other end of the line.

It was clear enough, though. The man shouldered his weapon and moved to Jack’s other side, taking on most of his weight. Together, the three of them hobbled out of the building and into the twilight tht had descended. They’d been in there for hours, apparently. Jack wasn’t so sure what to make of that. Everything had changed so much and so fast that it was like he’d walked in there as someone different than he walked out as. It was kind of metaphorical, when you stopped to think about it.

He really needed that Aspirin. And that vacation.

The agent shuffled them across the street to where there was a tactical unit vehicle waiting. The man lowered him onto the bumper, banging on the door. Jack would have said he was surprised to see Ames stick his head out, but then, he wasn’t all that surprised by anything anymore. There could have been pink elephants making their way on parade down the road and he wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.

“James, thank god,” Ames rasped, looking deflated in his very own kevlar vest and ear piece. Huh, who knew he could look so professional.

“What’re you doing here?” he asked.

“I GPS chipped you at the lab. I was worried that you were going on that suicide mission,” Ames replied, watching as Mel fretted over him. “Are you alright?”

“Peachy,” Jack replied, letting Mel tilt his head back and pinch his nose to stop the stream of blood running from it that he just hadn’t noticed.

“Do you have a first aid kit?” Mel asked and Ames nodded, disappearing into the van and coming back with a heavy duty looking field kit. Mel took it and immediately started shoving gauze under his nose. It hurt and he winced, but Melanie was in ‘nurse mode’ and there was no dissuading her. “He needs to go to a hospital. I think his ankle’s broken.”

“I am NOT sharing an ambulance with Moira,” he replied, thinking that there were indeed worse things than death, and that would be one of them.

“Moira?” Ames asked.

“I call her Natasha and I think I broke her leg for real this time,” Jack offered. “They should be hauling her out at any moment.”

After all, she was dragging herself along the ground. How far could she go? In fact, there was nothing in the direction she was going except...

“Shit,” Jack cursed, lunging to his feet and feeling his left leg give out on him when he took a step. He hit the pavement, hard.

“Jack!” Melanie cried, dropping down beside him. “What were you thinking!”

“Mel, she’s going for the bomb. If she turns it on, the whole building’s going to explode.”

“All teams, pull back! I repeat, clear the building!” Ames snapped into his own radio.

Jack watched as agents poured out of the building, pulling anyone from the cell along with them. Two even dragged Boris out. The last man was just clearing the doorway when the building rippled. Even Jack felt the sound wave that built up from the building before it seemed to collapse onto itself and the space literally imploded, an explosion clearly echoing from the back area where the machine had been. There was dust flying everywhere and Mel crouched over his head, protecting them both from the dirt and rocky debris that went flying from the building. When the rubble was done shifting, she straightened up enough so Jack could see the flattened building. He highly doubted anyone had survived that.

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. So was the weapon. He couldn’t help but smile. It was all gone. The weapon, the bomb, the woman...thank Christ.

“You did it,” Ames said, shaking his head a bit. “You...that was a suicide mission!”

“And look how well it worked out,” Jack replied evenly, letting Mel help haul him to his feet. He still couldn’t put weight on the ankle. Yeah, he was going to visit the hospital for the third time in a month. “Really, you should have more faith in my ability to survive insane situations.”

Ames only gave him an astonished look, muttering something about crazy, before walking towards where a few of the other agents were. Jack quickly put him out of mind, sitting back on the bumper of the van and getting all his weight off his leg. After a long moment of checking him over for any new bumps and bruises from his abrupt meeting with the pavement, Mel sat down beside him and let out a long sigh.

“You know, I never thought you and I would ever see each other again after the divorce, let alone be sitting here like this,” she offered. “You saved the world, Jack.”

“Nah, just Manhattan,” he replied with a smirk, getting a shoulder bump from the woman.

“I’m serious. They were out to kill a lot of people and you were willing to kill yourself to keep them from it. That takes a lot of courage,” she told him, looking earnest. “And then you were willing to throw it all out the window because I was there.”

If this were a movie, she would have leaned in right then and kissed him or he would have held her close and brought her in for a soul stealing kiss of his own. But this wasn’t the movies. They weren’t lovers who had just survived some great feat and needed to cement it with sex. He was an amnesic and she was his ex. Why she wasn’t pissed at him for getting her into all of this was something that he couldn’t fathom. If he had been in her position, he would have been raving mad, after all. But seeing as how he’d been on a rollercoaster ride since he woke up in a tub of ice, he wasn’t even sure that he would have been angry about being tugged into anything like this. At least he’d had Mel along for the ride. Even if he only remembered her dancing in the kitchen, it was one of his only two precious memories and he was going to hold onto it for as long as he could manage.

“Thank you,” she added when Jack clearly couldn’t string two words together to tell her that.

“Don’t mention it,” he replied, hoping she wouldn’t. He wanted to forget all about what had happened, even if that was the only life he could remember living. He felt like he’d aged twenty years since he’d woken up, and for someone who didn’t know how old he was...well, that was saying something.

Ames chose that moment to approach them again, still looking terribly out of place in his tactical gear. He couldn’t rectify this image of a warrior with the scholar he’d met earlier in the day who was bouncing around a lab in a tweed jacket.

“I just heard from headquarters. Agent Rand will be here soon,” Ames told them, leaning against the door of the van. “Head’s up – he’s mighty pissed.”

“I can imagine he is,” Jack offered, thinking the man had been mighty pissed the last time he’d seen Jack. In fact, he had yet to see the man when he wasn’t pissed.

“Well, a year’s worth of plotting and planning is down the drain,” he offered. “We all thought we’d have an arrest warrant with evidence backing it when we took them down instead of having to raid the place to rescue an undercover agent. You were better at this when your brain was still in working order.”

“And you were more convincing as a professor.”

Ames’ lip twitched a bit at that. “I may be a professor, but I’m still an active agent.”

“Nothing’s ever as it seems, is it?” Jack sighed and Ames patted his shoulder once again.

“Again, this is why we don’t let our agents play with drugs,” Ames offered. “Everything gets complicated when you play with narcotics.”

“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”

“Maybe,” Ames replied. “I’m sure I’ll forget all about it the next time you do something to push the limits.”

That was the thing. Jack didn’t know if there was going to be a next time. After all this...He’d literally lost his life to the job. He had to build a new one and maybe it was time to do something a little less dangerous, like mountain climbing or lion taming or stunt driving. Anything less adventurous than taking down terrorist cells with a go-get-‘em attitude and dumb luck. And that was what all this was – dumb luck. Hell, he couldn’t have made a bigger mess if he had tripped into it face first.

A moment later, a familiar black SUV pulled up and Rand was climbing out with his cohorts in tow. Jack had almost forgotten about him. Well, he supposed there was no down time when you just imploded a building, along with the biological weapon the government wanted for their own gain. That had been the reason he’d wiped his memory in the first place – to keep it out of their hands. He imagined he was in for the reaming out of a life time. It would have sat better with him if he could have met it standing. Maybe next time.

“Agent Dawson. It would appear you’ve made a mess of things,” Rand pointed out.

“Hey, I was already sitting here when the building did that,” Jack offered, gesturing at the pile of rubble.

“I don’t suppose the weapon survived?”

“That remains to be ascertained, but from the way the building collapsed after an explosion, it’s likely that the vials were destroyed,” Ames explained. “Agent Dawson was indeed outside of the blast radius when it occurred.”

“What about the cell?”

“Cell leader Seamus McEvoy was arrested. His sister, Moira, perished in the blast. She was the only casualty accounted for thus far. As for the rest of the cell, everyone on Tate and Dawson’s lists has been arrested,” Ames reported. “All in all, there are no loose ends at this point.”

“Mission accomplished,” Jack threw in, hunching his shoulders when Rand threw him a dirty look for the comment.

“I still want you in for questioning. If there’s any information left on what the cell was doing, it needs to be locked away somewhere secure,” Rand stated.

“The only information left on it is gone,” Jack told him. “It was burned and now the product was destroyed.”

“The scientists working on it –”

“Were myself and Dr. Tate,” Jack pointed out. “Dr. Tate is dead and seeing as how nothing’s come back to me over the past few weeks, I really doubt I’ll be remembering how to build a doomsday DNA weapon thinger anytime soon.”

Rand looked like he was in the middle of a silent fit of fury. Jack was feeling rather pleased that he could bring the man to that state. It was the impish side of his personality coming through. But it was also the knowledge that he’d succeeded. He’d erased every bit of evidence out there that could help Rand build a weapon of his own to use on the unsuspecting masses of the world, even if it was in the name of defeating terrorists. Call him crazy, but using the terrorist’s own weapon against them seemed to be a bit too much of a risk and rather cliché.

“I still want you debriefed,” Rand insisted.

“And at the end of the debriefing, you’ll have my resignation.”

This seemed to draw everyone up short. Even Ames was looking at him like he’d declared that he was the king of England.

“Dawson, you may not have caught on, but you’re one of the best agents we have,” Ames supplied.

“And what better way to go out than on top?” Jack replied, thinking that it made a lot more sense than hanging on and getting more people killed as he bumbled his way through. “Besides, with my memory being what it is, I’m probably no use to you on the job.”

“You seemed to have pulled through on this one,” Rand pointed out, not sounding impressed.

“And I had a lot of help from Agent Dawson. I’m not him anymore, though. If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that I was pretty badass before, and now...I’m just trying to figure out who I am.”

And even if he was pretty badass, his other self had made a choice for them both when he’d fried his brain like that. There was no way he could be Quinn Dawson again, not when all he remembered were his dead brother and his ex-wife. People would die if they followed his lead. He couldn’t have that on his conscience. If Natasha hadn’t been so much of a bitch, he would probably be upset she was dead, too. Thank god for small miracles on this one. But the thought of getting involved again, doing deep undercover and potentially getting more people hurt or killed just didn’t sit well with him. He couldn’t do it again. And if that wasn’t a sign that he wasn’t cut out for the job anymore, he didn’t know what was.

“I’ll see you back at headquarters,” Rand dismissed tightly, turning on his heel and walking away.

Jack watched him go, thinking that it was good riddance. Ames watched after him before heaving a sigh and following. The life of an agent was never done, he supposed.

“So, what happens now?” Melanie asked from where she was quietly sitting beside him still. He wasn’t sure that conversation was meant to be overheard by a civilian, but she’d seen so much already that he doubted any of that had surprised her in the least.

“Well, we go to headquarters and get debriefed,” Jack pointed out.

“I mean after all that. You did just quit your job, after all.”

“Hmm...well, I suppose I’ll just have to get myself a new one.”

She nodded, looking around the scene once more and Jack took a moment to study her in the light. She was still beautiful and something in his gut told him that he was going to be an idiot if he made the same mistakes over and over again. Having no memory was a second chance and he wasn’t about to squander it.

“I’ve been thinking...I’d like to take you out on a date.”

“On a date?” Melanie asked with a hint of confusion. “We were married. Believe me we had our share of dates, Jack.”

“And I can’t remember a single one of them,” Jack reminded. “You dated and married Quinn Dawson or Jim Kirk or whoever he was. How about giving Jack...Doe a chance?”

Yeah, he really needed to figure out this name thing. He was going to follow whatever breadcrumbs he could until he knew it. He had been a secret agent, after all. He could manage it. However, what he couldn’t manage was trying to figure out if asking out his ex wife had been seen as a good thing or a bad thing in her eyes. She studied him for a long moment and Jack offered her half a grin that made his face throb, hoping that she’d melt a bit for him. She never had in their past interactions, but there was a first time for everything, and he was hoping this was that time.

It was worth it when she finally nodded and leant in to carefully lay a kiss on his beaten up lips. It stung. Her lip gloss seeped into his cuts and he wanted to wince at the pressure, but really, it was the best –and only – kiss he’d ever had, so he let it slide and kept still until she pulled away and smiled at him like he was some simple thing she was fond of. He’d take it.

“It’s a date.”


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