CTU Muse (ctumuse) wrote in stagesoflove,
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24 - Brittany House/Jake Hannigan - stages of change: adaptation

Title: Fail, Safe
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 343
Rating: PG
Summary: She saw the truth between the lies and why did it have to be him?
Author's Notes: This takes place in November of 2005 and is canon.

Five months and two boxes.

Each of the boxes sits side-by-side on her now-empty desk, in a now-empty office, where her name will soon be scratched off the glass wall. She rests her forehead against the letters, closes her eyes, and tries not to get emotional. She thought she'd probably fuck this up, so why is she so shocked that it happened?

He stands behind her, over her shoulder, like always, just watching her. Blue eyes blink in a quiet respect.

"You sucked at this job, you know."

She doesn't even look up. "State the obvious, why don't you."

"Not enough command experience. Too much compassion. Too many distractions." He ticks these things off as if they're bullet points. They both know that he's right about every one of them.

She doesn't answer.

"But at least you give a shit about leaving."

His hand settles on her back. She lifts her head from the glass and looks at him, looking back at her. She has no idea what to say. He isn't normally a man of compliments. Looks like they've both got things they need to get off their chests.

"I didn't want to let anybody down."

"There's no shame in admitting you can't do the work. You were honest." His gaze hasn't left hers. "You didn't pretend like it didn't matter."

She understands what he's not saying. About the man that came before her and the betrayal that damaged Jake's trust forever. About how, at least, she's done better than that. Even if she's buckled under the pressure, at least she gave him that.

That means something to him.

"I'm not him," she replies.

"No," he says, and maybe if she squints he's sort of smiling. "No, you're not."

They've come a long way from the time they used to despise each other. Somehow, even as she's letting go, she doesn't think this is the last time they'll see each other. It will just be different circumstances. Different lives. They've made a difference in each other's lives.

Five months and two people.

Title: Composition
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 335
Rating: PG
Summary: As time wore on, they learned how to write the measure.
Author's Notes: Takes place sometime after January 2006 and is canon.

After that, they learned how to speak to one another.

What they had discovered in that one evening, those twentyodd minutes alone and secreted from the world, was that it was a delicate art. It required patience, astute listening, sharp thinking, the right word selection, a certain degree of empathy. Neither of them had been interested in learning the process before. They were both too busy, too determined to draw their lines in the sand. Neither had time to really collaborate, and they never had.

But now, it seemed, they had nothing but time. Or at least, a view from the other side that convinced them that the time was worth taking. Because they had realized that underneath the layers that they had built for themselves, they weren't that different after all.

They'd both been burned. Both been betrayed. Both forced to start over. Both were, to a measure, outcasts for who they were and what they believed. When you put it that way, maybe the months of deep hatred and spite weren't deserved. They certainly weren't worth it, not when they had little left to show for it.

Neither of them acknowledged that anything was different. That would be admitting to things they didn't want made public. But it never had to be admitted.

He'd sit her down and explain the situation rather than simply berate her for not seeing it. She would actually ask for his opinion rather than make a snapping assumption that she knew what it was. The looks in their eyes said they had learned the lesson of their constant enmity.

It was small things. Silent things. Pieces at a time. Put them together, and they made something stronger.

But in reality, it was already too late. Her path had been decided the day she found out she was pregnant. His career would probably never rebound from his losses. They were already heading in separate directions.

The lines of history that they were writing, however, would still be heard.

Title: Impact Players
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 300
Rating: PG
Summary: He needs to go her way and she needs to play the game his way.
Author's Notes: Takes place in November of 2005 and is canon. Follows the events of "Reinforcement," but before "Release" and "Bruised."

He's learned a thing or two from her about what it all means.

When the missive about the two New York agents' abduction crosses his desk, Jake Hannigan is merely a sideline player doing body work at Division. He sees the names and the situation, and he knows what he has to do. New York is his turf and nobody takes his agents off the board and gets away with it. Supervisors are supposed to protect their agents. Not to mention he's well aware that they're her husband and her ex-husband.

Jake gets his jacket off his chair, his gear from his locker, and without so much as a word or a look back, he walks out and heads for his car.

He knows that she would come for him without a second thought.

She's learned a thing or two from him about how things get done.

Normally she's a woman of mercy and compassion in even the trickiest of situations. But she knows that there is no mercy or compassion to be found here. They won't extend any to her, and this is the highest of capital crimes, she shouldn't extend any to them. She needs to take the fight directly to the man who's taken her loved ones, and she needs to exterminate him. Not just break him, she needs to kill him. Leave no trace of him or any of his associates. Send a message. She can't do that, but she knows someone who can.

She knows that she can put her faith in him to do this necessary evil, and to bring them home.

Both of them have learned the fine art of change. Taking from the other what they need to survive. What they need to keep her loved ones alive.

This, they do together.

Title: Some Measure of Truth
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 306
Rating: PG
Summary: They had never imagined building anything after a war together.
Author's Notes: Set after "Point of Origin." Alternate universe, futurefic.

She moves her things from Durham, and he moves his from Manhattan, and they're sitting on the floor of the living room of the house in Columbia, trying to sort out the sum at the juncture of their lives. They had never imagined building anything after a war together. Things during a war, of course, that was what they did. But never anything after, not a house, a home, a life.

At first it's simply too unreal. Paint colors and deciding on furniture and figuring out what goes in what room. Half the time is spent merely trying to process that they're going to live together again. Going to be getting married. What the hell are they doing getting married?

But as they rebuild, it comes back to them. Which side of the bed she sleeps on. In what order he organizes all of the books he keeps.

How he does the dishes so she doesn't have to. The hours they spent up in the attic wading through pieces of his family's past. The way they laid in bed together, staring silently at the ceiling.

Of course it's different. It's the last step in this tempestuous relationship of theirs. There's no turning back. They're making this leap, putting this house together, because they're going to be married, going to commit to one another. It's not what either of them expected. Not what either of them knew they wanted. They fought like hell to avoid it, and they've fought like hell for it. They're very different people, and yet, maybe they're not that different. Maybe they're already changing.

Because they may be her and him, but this house, this space, already feels like they've changed, like it belongs to them. Like maybe, just maybe, they're coming together. There has to be some measure of truth in that.

Title: Body Shots
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 315
Rating: PG
Summary: Commit act of treason. Save President. Roll credits.
Author's Notes: This takes place after the novel "Behind Closed Doors" and is canon.

The bar was half-empty by the time that Kyle had turned to his two colleagues in the parking lot and said, "Does anybody want a beer?" And considering they'd just committed an act of federal treason and stopped somebody from shooting the President, both Jake and Brittany thought some imbibing was definitely in order.

They were sitting on opposite sides of the table, Brittany next to Kyle and playing with the rim of her glass, Jake across from the both of them, everyone squinting a little at each other in the dark lighting. Mostly, they were all just tired. They'd spent the last few days running around all over the Eastern Seaboard, with little sleep, little downtime, and they couldn't remember the last time they'd had a decent meal or a conversation. Jake rubbed at an eye with the palm of his hand, struggling to keep conscious, and Kyle still looked in a haze.

"At least we won," Brittany volunteered helpfully.

Both men laughed tiredly at that.

"Yeah," Kyle said, "and maybe Joyner will apologize to me for calling me insecure."

"Wouldn't count on it," Jake replied.

Brittany looked over at him and smiled slightly. "We couldn't have done it without you, you know. Otherwise Brady would have been in fuck knows where with my husband shooting somebody before we could get there." She paused. "I owe you one."

He looked at her for a long moment, then shook his head. "No, you don't," he replied. "It was worth it to take one more shot at him."

"You get what you wanted out of it?" Kyle asked.

Jake was quiet for another moment, staring at the table. "Yeah," he finally said, picking up his beer and taking a drink.

Brittany paused, then asked, "What did you want?"

He looked her in the eyes and said, "To show him I had someone else to believe in."

Title: Ammunition
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 278
Rating: PG
Summary: They really shouldn't have given them ammunition.
Author's Notes: This takes place sometime in early 2006 and is canon.

Brittany didn't expect it when Jake snagged her by the elbow. "Walk with me," he said, leading her away from Julian's desk and in the general direction of his office.

"What did I do now?" she asked, because it seemed like the question most likely to get her an answer.

"No, it's what you're going to do." He let her go and turned her to face him. "One of the guys on my dodgeball team has a sinus infection. We need somebody who can replace him on Saturday."

"And you're asking me?"

He rolled his eyes. "No, I'm just bringing it up. Yeah, I'm asking you. You're a pretty good shot. I'd ask Kyle, but asking someone with a gun phobia to play paintball would be like asking a hydrophobic if he wanted to go swimming. Think you can handle it?"

She paused, racked her brain for a schedule, then shrugged. "Anything to see if you get shot in the ass."

That made him laugh. "You'll be seeing a lot of my ass, but I'll be the one doing the shooting."

"Can I shoot you?"

"Only if I can shoot you back."

"Damn." Brittany chuckled. "Call me with the details," she said. Then as she turned to go, she arched an eyebrow. "Doesn't it hurt like hell when you get shot?"

Jake grinned at her. "Then don't get shot."

She had to laugh again, but she turned and kept walking. "I think this just might be fun," she called over her shoulder. "If we can stay on the same team long enough without killing each other."

"You're still alive, aren't you? And that's why we shoot other people."

Title: Close to Home
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 305
Rating: PG
Summary: When he sees where she lives, he almost expects a halo and a choir, and then he gags.
Author's Notes: This takes place in mid-May 2006 and is canon.

Brittany's husband left her in Princeton while he went to Chicago, again. This time she couldn't blame him -- a friend needed his help -- but she still felt alone. And most importantly, really, really bored. She needed someone to talk to. Kyle had his own issues, Michael was busy, and somehow, she ended up calling Jake. Asking if he wanted to go to dinner. Even more surprising, he said yes.

"It kinda irritates me," she said, "that he knows every one of my friends, yet I've only met like, one of his friends, even though he obviously has all these people he talks to and harasses and shit. I feel kind of, I don't know, unintentionally unwelcome? I mean, hell, he's even spent time with you."

He paused, looking at her over his plate. "You're calling me a friend now?"

"That's a bad thing?" she replied, arching an eyebrow.

"Just a surprise."

He drove her home a few hours later, walking with her to the door because it was late and she was, after all, pregnant. When he saw where she lived, he almost expected a halo and a choir, and then he gagged. She was trying to build that nice life with the white picket fence, but he'd seen the chips in the paint and the dents in her armor. And she didn't even own a dog.

As it turned out, she owned a cat.

A cat that wasn't particularly fond of him, yowling as soon as she opened the door.

"Even your animals aren't fond of me," he replied with an amused chuckle.

She laughed, reaching down to scratch the cat behind its ears. "He's just expecting somebody else."

He looked at her and chuckled, patting her on the back. "I've been saying that every morning when I look in the mirror.

Title: B-Side
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #4 -- Adaptation
Word Count: 292
Rating: PG
Summary: It's time to make some noise.
Author's Notes: This takes place at an unspecified time and is canon.

"Do you think you have that loud enough?" Brittany asked, nodding toward Jake's computer, which was currently playing something resembling Nickelback at an odd volume.

"Sometimes the noise helps me think." He clicked and the music dropped a few levels as he grabbed a file off his desk. "They're right, you know. You're gonna be a woman on a men's basketball team, that's not gonna be easy. I want to assign you a bodyguard. The Ivy League has their own security, but I want someone from our team on it."

She nodded slightly. "Jake, um...you don't have to do this. I don't work here anymore."

"You're still one of mine." He brushed it off as if it meant absolutely nothing, which it probably didn't, not to him anymore. "You know that kid I've been working with? David Roberts. I'm going to assign him to you. He'll answer directly to me. If you need anything, you call me first, all right?" he continued, giving her a pointed glance.

Brittany knew better than to argue with that look. "Okay," she replied, shifting uneasily. "Jake, you don't owe me anything. If anything, I'd think you'd want to see me get a few beers thrown at me."

"That's not the way I think of you." He shook his head. "I want to keep you alive. I hired David, I trained him, he can do that. And if he can't, I can."

She was quiet for a moment. "You're protecting me now?" she asked softly.

Jake's eyes met hers. "I want to keep you alive," he repeated. "The game's changed, Brittany."

"Yeah," she replied. "I guess it has. Thanks, Jake."

His only response was to turn the music back up, not even bothering to watch her go.

Tags: 24, brittany house/jake hannigan, stages of change: adaptation
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