A whole life

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I must have died and gone to heaven. He was looking into a pair of green eyes and got drowned in the glint in these eyes. She looked so happy. She wiped away any single one of his doubts.
On the way here, he had wondered if he was rushing her too much with all this – they hadn't even been engaged for more than a day. She'd hardly had any time to think about this all. Did she really want to marry him or had she just said yes because he had taken her by surprise?

Her smile answered everything. It blew away any doubt within parts of a single second. She looked happy, and probably, so did he.

Was it hard to be happy? Maybe. There was a special place in the body – one where people feel loss. Where they feel the pain, solitude and desire. He knew that bloody spot very well.
It had hurt- exactly there- for long years, for so many times, whenever he had thought of her.
In hiding.
Whenever he'd been sleeping with another woman, finding out that it was not what he wanted. Waking up the morning thereafter, next to somebody who he actually hadn't wanted to find in that place.
In China. Every lonely evening in this cold cell, feeling the pain, when only the desire to see her once more had kept him alive. In Africa. When the guilt for not being there for her had nagged at him. And all the time between.

He had to admit that he wasn't used to being happy. He didn't know anymore how being happy felt like. Where he had used to feel this awful solitude, now there was a warm glow. This had to be it.

He listened to the words which the man to his left said.
Do you, Jack Bauer, take this woman, Audrey Louise Heller, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto her for as long as you both shall live? If so, answer 'I do'.

"I do."
It was so easy to say these words.
So this was what it felt like.

Do you, Audrey Louise Heller, take this man, Jack Bauer, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto him for as long as you both shall live? If so, answer 'I do'.

"I do."

He could close his eyes – and whenever he wanted to remember how being happy felt like – he'd hear her words again. They had burned themselves into his memory.
He took the ring from the little red cushion and slowly put it onto her finger.
She took hers and felt his hand tremble slightly, as she did the same. Lovingly she held his hands tight, as she looked at the rings on their fingers.

By the authority vested in me by the federal District of Columbia, I now pronounce you man and wife and what God hath joined together, let no man nor woman put asunder.

He would never forget her kiss. He had kissed her so many times within the past months, but yet it felt different. Kissing his wife.
He had a companion for life again, that was the reason for this glowing warmth.

He loved every moment that he spent with her and treasured each single memory.
The one when they parted from their kiss, looking into each other's eyes for the first time, being husband and wife.
The first night they spent together, being husband and wife.
Bringing the family back together. Kim, little Teri. Even Heller.
Showing the people their new First Lady.
Every simple moment in silence.
Every time one of them woke up from a horrible nightmare from their past, but was not alone.
Leading her out onto the stage, after getting re-elected.
The day she told him she was pregnant.
The day he went to that store and bought that pink little pair of shoes, as a gift for their anniversary.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. This warm feeling was back. He heard her call his name. Jack-! It felt so good to have her near.

He smiled. How beautiful her voice was. Even if they argued… he was putty in her palms.
No, he'd not open his eyes. He could afford to take another second to dwell in memories.

"Jack!", she called his name again.

Slowly he opened his eyes and looked at her beautiful face. Did she look worried?
"There's nothing to worry about, Audrey", he spoke under his breath.

"Jack", she sobbed.

Now he saw the tears on her cheeks. "Everything's gonna be alright.", he tried to reassure her. What on earth made her cry? Their lives were perfect. There was nothing to cry about.
Seeing her like this made him feel like there was a lump in his throat. Something weighed heavily.

"Don't close your eyes again.", she said, determinedly. "Keep 'em open!"

He wondered what she meant with this. Yet he complied.
She was kneeling in front of him.
He turned his head a little bit to look around. And suddenly he found himself lying on the ground, the sun blinding him. What the hell was going on here? How did he get here?

With her free hand she harshly grabbed his face and forced him to look at her again. "You gotta stay awake!", she shouted, "Do you get me?"

He felt the exhaustion get the better of him. The warmth feeling did not only comfort him – it also told him to close his eyes to sleep.
Tiredly he looked down, finding her hands. She was pressing them firmly against his chest and even though she pressed down with all her weight, blood was oozing through her fingers.

His blood.

A bunch of other people rushed around, too. A man came and pushed her away, taking over.

"Audrey…", Jack silently said, stretching out an arm towards her. He didn't want to lose her in the rumble. She wasn't allowed to leave.

She knelt next to him, crying.

He saw the blood on her hands, and the red stains on her beige-colored dress, even on her stomach! It cost some energy to ask. "Are you alright?" He needed to know.

Hurriedly she nodded her head yes, crying deeper than before. "Yes.", she sobbed, "You have to stay awake, Jack." She bent down and kissed his forehead.

"I just saw our wedding.", he whispered. "Like it was yesterday."

"That was four years ago.", she sobbed, looking into his eyes. "Don't tell me you see your whole life flashing before your eyes. You're not ready for that."

It was strange to feel no pain. He saw the doctors working, he saw his own blood, everywhere. But the warm feeling in his chest drowned out everything else.
"I only saw the good times.", he whispered, "The years with you." He finally closed his eyes and relaxed.

She harshly grabbed him, rattling at his shoulders. "Jack!", she cried.

Weakly, he smiled. "Thank you Audrey", he said, "for everything."
And then, the warm feeling grabbed him again, taking him away from here, to the memories again.

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I know you hate me now.
But this is 24.
This is why we like it.
We see the characters suffer and admire them for not-breaking, no matter what life throws at them.

Yours,
amacma