CTU Muse (ctumuse) wrote in stagesoflove,
CTU Muse

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24: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan, stages of a relationship: confession

Title: Find Me There
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #1 -- confession
Word Count: 934
Rating: PG
Summary: He has one last thing to say to her before she goes. Originally written for a prompt community, but I fell in love with this scene somewhere along the way.

She's beautiful, milling through the room in a simple blue dress, speaking quietly with each and every person who's come to say goodbye. Standing on the other side of the party, Jake can see the weight on her shoulders. It's finally sinking in to her, that this is the end of an era.

It's not surprising when, toward the end of the evening, she slips out of the party, disappearing through the double doors out onto the patio. He waits a few moments, eyes on the doors, sipping from his beer, before he sets the bottle down on the table and manuevers his way through the inconsequential group of people. Without making a sound, he navigates the room and pushes the doors open. He adjusts his suit jacket as he pushes them shut behind him with a simple click, looking out at the garden in the distance, the black night sky where only a few minor stars are shining.

She has her back to him, her head slightly bowed, standing on the steps leading into the garden. She makes no sound. He knows her well enough to know she's trying to put the last six years in perspective, where there's really none to be had. There's no simple summation for the kind of work that they do.

The things that she's accomplished. Which, he is now willing to give her credit for.

He watches her for a long moment. Where others see a golden girl, a loved one, someone special, he has never seen any of those things. Well, maybe the last one, once or twice, sort of, on a very good day. He sees her mistakes. He sees her flaws. He sees the scars he knows that dress is hiding. He sees everything wrong with her. He sees that she is, in fact, human.

And that's what makes this whole thing work.

He clears his throat, says her name, simply and softly. She starts slightly, then turns around and favors him with a small smile. As always, both of them are eyeing the considerable distance between them.

"Can I get you something?" she asks, and he laughs. "What are you, the waiter?" he says, taking a few steps toward the edge of the short stairs. He stops on the edge, looking down at her, two steps beneath him and looking up at him. At any other time, he would have used this convenient metaphor to gloat. But not tonight. No, not tonight.

He ducks his head slightly, chews on his lower lip. "Just came looking for you," he finally says.

She smiles slightly. "Well, you found me," she replies, "though I don't know exactly how thrilling I'm gonna be right now. I mean, at least the party has alcohol content."

That makes him laugh. She takes a step up toward him, and with the added lift, they're practically at eye level, even though he's nine inches taller than she is. They've always been able to look each other in the eye, even when they're yelling obscenities at each other. He speaks first. "You know, I never did thank you for getting me my job back."

"You never said it, but you showed it. I could see it in your eyes. The whole accidental thing with your hand," and here she repeats the gesture, her fingers lightly brushing his forearm, the way he had done back then. With them, it was always about small gestures, things unsaid, things that happened behind closed doors. "Thought we didn't talk about those kind of things, anyway."

"We don't." His voice is even.

She shook her head. "You don't have to thank me for it, Jake. You earned it."

He knows he did. He knows they don't owe each other anything. She may have saved his job, but he helped save her husband's life. They're even. They can both walk away from this hate-sort of love relationship with their heads held high and the score settled, and never see each other again, and it will be done with.

Except they won't.

Jake turns his head slightly and looks at the doe-eyed caring in her eyes. In this case, it actually makes him smile a little. "But I do have to thank you for staying."

He's not talking about the job, obviously. He's talking about them, their alliance, the whatever the fuck they are to one another. He's gotten close to other people who have left him, stabbed him in the back. She asked him to trust him, and in return, she made him a promise. She's whispered to him that it will be different this time. He knows, just looking in her eyes right now, that it will be. That she will be here, forever and after. And that's the one thing he's been dying for.

"I wanted to," she murmurs, holding his gaze.

Neither one of them is sure who makes the decision next. They know that they're alone, and that no one will find them here. This is a safe place for them and the things they've been through. He's never done this before, and he'll never admit to it, but it seems now like something he wants to do. Almost has to do. He slides his arms around her and gives her a hug, feeling her arms around him, her head tucked on his shoulder, the faint press of her lips against his cheek.

No words are ever spoken. They don't talk about these things. They don't admit to them. These things don't exist. There is no reason for why they happen.

They just are.

Title: Don't Leave Me This Way
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #1 -- confession
Word Count: 363
Rating: PG
Summary: Set post-series. Jake tries to figure out where he goes from here, and Brittany has to figure out if there's room in his life for her. Lyrics are from "Should I Stay" by Gabrielle, which is the entire reason I signed up for this challenge. I'm not kidding.

here I am
waiting for a sign
I never seem to know
if you want me in your life

He can't remember the last time he saw her face. As early as a year ago he wouldn't have cared, but that seems like long ago and far away. Jake can barely remember the look in her eyes, and that rare private smile that seemed to be his and his alone. She is like a ghost, fading from his memory. Out of his world, just another of the masses. That's not fair, because she's the reason he's still here.

It's enough for him to pick up the phone and tell her that he has to see her. He knows, because he knows her, knows this complicated thing that they've become, that she'll come. She'll come running to him, like he knows in his gut he would do for her. Even if she doesn't need him anymore.

Why does that sting?

He sits in his apartment, wanting a cigarette again just for the sheer distraction of it, to stop trying to figure out the why and just learn to be comfortable with what's happened to him. The extra scars on his soul. The memories he would rather forget about. The hard-earned experience that has led him to realize no matter what happened to him, no matter how dark the day, he's going to go on breathing. There will always be another day.

He can be anything he wants now. Maybe it won't be easy, but he's never liked easy anyway. He wants to earn it. Wants to feel something. She let him feel something more than the frustration and desperation that he'd started to drown in. He has to do it on his own, but he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to be alone again.

Jake knows that he needs Brittany, and he hopes that she needs him too. Even if they'll never be the way they used to be. Even if that's scary as hell for the both of them.

He just needs to figure out how to tell her that she has to stay.

And he knows he's running out of time.

Title: Neutral Infractions
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Brittany House/Jake Hannigan
Prompt: #1 -- confession
Word Count: 776
Rating: PG
Summary: She knew he was waiting for her. Takes place in an alternate universe where Jake and Brittany have a different sort of established past. I won't give away more because the fic will explain it.

They sat on opposite sides of the couch, not even really looking at each other. Jake had one leg drawn up onto the opposite knee, nursing the soda she'd brought him. Brittany seemed more interested in her carpet than the man sitting beside her. It might have been termed an awkward situation, except they'd been in a lot more awkward situations together.

"How long have we known each other, Jake?" she asked quietly, tapping her fingers on the arm of the couch.

It took him only seconds to answer her. "Six years and ten months," he replied. "Please, please don't tell me that we're going to start weeping and having flashbacks to college."

She laughed softly, with a gentle snort of indignance. "What the hell from college is there to talk about? My team kicked your team's ass, you broke your arm, and I bought you dinner." She turned her head and looked at him with a small smile. "You were almost cute one-armed."

"I was not cute." He narrowed his eyes at her. "I think you would've broken worse if they ever let you play."

"Probably wise they didn't, then." She took another sip of her soda and then set it down on the table, not even bothering with a coaster. She wasn't that uptight, unless it came to the subject they'd been avoiding since the beginning of their tepid conversation. "You know, I never understood why you left L.A."

"The promotion was on the table and I wanted it." He didn't have to remind her of the incredible remorse that had come with that decision. He'd never intended to stay in Los Angeles at all, not until he'd seen her face walk into the bullpen one day in September. "I never understood why you got involved in the first place." A pause, ruminating on something. "I didn't expect to ever see you again."

"You didn't seem to want to keep in touch..."

"...I was focusing on my career," he cut her off, more sharply than he'd intended.

There was a small silence between them. To say that she'd been shocked to see her ex-partner in the halls of CTU New York would have been an understatement. But then, ever since they'd met while undergraduates at opposing California schools, everything in their relationship had been about shock value. He'd been shocked to see her at CTU Los Angeles six years earlier. She'd been shocked when he'd left Los Angeles three years after that for a promotion back East. Then to be forced to work together, under the worst of circumstances...

He'd managed to shock her again.

"Just say what you wanted to say," he advised quietly. For all the differences that had come between them, the fact that they were practically strangers now, his life had turned out differently because of her in it. Both times.

She nodded. "What happened," she asked, with a swallow, "was it because you have feelings for me?"

Jake kept his eyes locked on hers, to keep himself from remembering what he'd done to her without ever really meaning to. "I don't know," he finally answered. It was the truth; he'd never meant to hurt her. Never meant to assault her the way he had. He'd forgotten who she was. Hell, maybe he'd forgotten who he was, in the years since he'd come to New York. Since the advent of Christian Brady. Since everything.

He pursed his lips. "It's been three years," he said, "we're not who we once were."

"Fair enough," she admitted, with a nod.

"Are you ever going to tell them?" he asked, not even really caring who. Her new colleagues. Her friends. Her husband. He supposed it didn't matter anymore, now that she was off living a life that he probably wouldn't be able to hold a candle to. He told himself he had no jealousy issues.

"Do you think they really need to know?" she replied. "That they would want to know?"

"Probably not." He exhaled. "It's easier to lie, than to tell the truth."

"I know," she said, reaching for her soda and taking another long drink. "Doesn't that suck?"

Jake looked at her, and in that split second, the entire six years, the hurt and the pain and the shock and the caring and the very human people they'd been before, the very human people they were becoming again, that tug they'd once felt toward each other, he laid it all out on the table. The knowledge that while they'd never admit it, they'd never forget.

"Yeah," he said, and meant it with all the sincerity his cynical soul could muster. "It does."

Tags: 24, brittany house/jake hannigan, stages of a relationship: confession
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