Hi all, I have been a long time reader here and have always wanted to post a Jack/Audrey story but never got around to it (until now) and I guess also forgot about it with the show being over for such a long time. 24 is my one of my favourite shows though and this year I decided to re-watch the entire series which has inspired me to write this story. I am a huge Jack/Audrey fan especially as S4 is the first season I got into 24 and S5 is when I really fell in love with it (but I have since seen the earlier seasons a few times, all of which I love). I know that Audrey isn't the most popular character and that this relationship isn't the most popular relationship and I can understand why when watching certain episodes or seasons (I especially wasn't sold on them in S4 alone) but after watching the entire series now a few times, I can say that I've been very moved by their relationship. I've thought and reflected a lot about this beautiful relationship over the years and believe that despite flaws and imperfections in themselves and their relationship, Jack and Audrey truly love each other and are willing to go to the ends of the Earth and sacrifice their lives for each other. The beauty (and curse) of 24 is that we see so little of these characters' lives so it is up to us to fill in the blanks in order to explain what led to this relationship, commitment and eternal love as well as what happened between later seasons which is why I am writing this story.

I'm not entirely sure where this story will end up, I'd love to write an ending for them that at least provides closure if not happiness but for now this will be a story of their beginning (pre S4) as I try to come up with a nice but realistic story as to how their relationship came to be. There are many stories out there portraying a range of potential beginnings to their relationship and I can truly see them starting out in a variety of circumstances but this will be my personal take on it. Given the barriers between them (including Audrey's marriage, the fact that they worked closely together, Audrey being the boss' daughter, the boss being a man that Jack respects/is close to and Jack's likely reluctance to open up and be vulnerable in a new relationship), I don't feel that Jack and Audrey were exactly quick to ask each other out on a date or begin a sexual relationship. I feel that their relationship would have started slowly and subtly and that they communicated, set boundaries and were mature about their emotions, feelings and fears from the start. This isn't always the most fun dynamic to write but I do feel that this is realistic for them, which is important to me when writing this story. From there, even though they were only together for six months, they obviously fell deeply in love with each other so I have to imagine that once their relationship started, they fell for each other quickly and had a loving, intimate, deep and solid connection that resulted in the relationship and love we see them open S4 with and carry throughout the rest of the series. Hopefully I can write a nice back story for them that shows how all of this developed.

Anyway, on with the story. Seeing as this leads up to S4 and S4 aired from January to May 2005, I will use this as a reference point and say that S4 occurred in May 2005. I know this isn't the correct timeframe if you count from S1 but the 24 timeline is complicated and the year doesn't really matter per say, I just want to keep a consistent timeframe within this story.

End of April 2004

Approximately 6 months post season 3

It was Friday evening and Jack was lost in his thoughts, thinking about the events that had led him to this point as he walked home from his new local grocery store carrying just a few essential items, not caring enough to pick up anything more than the basics required to get him through the next few days. As he walked, Jack made a mental note to start wearing warmer clothes here in Washington D.C. Even though the days were warm enough the evenings were still cold even in April when things were supposedly meant to be warming up.

Jack had spent the week moving and settling into Washington D.C. where he would begin his new job as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defence on Monday. Jack had been lucky enough that his daughter was able to join him in Washington D.C. for a few days and help him set up. Kim wasn't working at the moment, instead being the main caregiver to her step daughter Angela and she had been able to organise for someone to look after Angela for the week, allowing her to join him in Washington D.C. Kim had happily taken on the task of putting together Jack's new apartment provided she could use his credit card. Jack had to say that he was impressed as she had pulled together a nice space for him to live in over only a few days, including a nice guest room for her to come and stay any time. Jack was also happy that he had been able to spend some one on one time with Kim, something they hadn't done in a while. They enjoyed their few days together in the city, seeing as much as they could between unpacking, buying furniture and setting his apartment up. Jack had just dropped Kim back at the airport before coming home, realising that he had almost no food in his refrigerator and heading out to the store. As Jack walked around his new neighbourhood though, he realised that he was already feeling good in Washington D.C. even though he had been here less than a week and was looking forward to this new beginning for himself.

Jack had had a rough three months leading up to now and a rough few months before that, and before that, and before that. In fact, since Teri's death and truthfully even before that, Jack had been having a rough time but the last few months in particular had been very difficult. Six months ago, Jack suffered an unthinkably traumatic day as his undercover operation with the Salazars came to a haltering end. Jack made unthinkable and still haunting decisions that day, hundreds of innocent people were caught in the crossfire of securing the virus, one of his only true friends Tony had been taken to prison and although having since been released, Tony was suffering only more personal problems and above all, six months ago Jack's heroin addiction had been discovered and put on display. That day six months ago though only served as a reminder of many days before that. Jack had seen more colleagues and friends die and get hurt due simply to their line of work and Jack himself had nearly been killed numerous times, experienced physical torture and pain and been part of missions and decision making that inflicted even greater amounts of emotional pain that he would deal with for the rest of his life. In spite of the sheer loss and grief his job had caused him, Jack had still been devastated when three months ago he was fired from CTU.

Despite what the job had taken from Jack and his family not only since Teri's death but even beforehand, Jack had always believed in and thrived off the work they did and particularly over the last few years the intensity of the role had provided enough distraction for Jack to somehow keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue living his life instead of drowning in grief and suffering. Jack was also devastated that after showing such loyalty and commitment to his role and CTU, continuously placing his life at serious risk in order for their operations to succeed, he was fired for something he essentially did in order to be successful in an operation.

Jack had taken some time after losing his job to think long and hard about what was ahead for him. Despite his recorded off book and rule breaking behaviour, his reputation as an excellent field agent preceded him with many people in his industry having heard of him and greatly respecting the work that he had accomplished at CTU. In addition to this, Jack had stellar references including a recommendation from President Palmer himself. Jack knew that other agencies would be happy to hire him for field work and his first instinct was to go ahead and join another agency as quickly as possible, completing similar work and allowing himself to get lost in it again. Jack had stopped though and questioned whether jumping back into field work was the right choice for him. Despite believing in the work and enjoying the intensity and distraction of it, he couldn't deny the toll that the work had taken on him and he hated the stress that it put on Kim too, finally accepting that children can worry about their parents and that it wasn't only parents that worried about their children. Given that his personal sacrifices at work impacted her so much, Jack thought that perhaps it was time to stop making those sacrifices himself and let other eager people complete those roles whilst Jack stepped back into something else. After the excruciating pain his job at CTU had caused him and his family, maybe he was being given a chance to make things right again. Jack knew there were jobs where the safety of millions wouldn't rest on his shoulders and where physical fights, firing shots and being forced to be brutal weren't as commonplace as filing, phone calls and coffee runs and deep down Jack ached for a more normal life. Jack still wanted to serve his country but had started to think about doing this in a different capacity, with some semblance of a safe and normal life. Truthfully, since Jack stopped working, although he still got caught up in his memories sometimes, he realised that he felt much more relaxed without the constant input of national security crises and for the first time really understood that there were other people out there to handle those roles and take on those challenges and responsibilities.

For the first time in many years, without the distraction of work, Jack also acknowledged how lonely and detached from the world he was. Jack had now been without a loving, committed partner for five years, since Teri's death. Although Jack had dated a little over the years, the relationships had never progressed far. Jack had also never been close with his family or surrounded himself with a lot of friends but since Teri's death, he had shut out the family and friends that he had once spent time with. Jack had a good relationship with his daughter but she didn't need him like she did a few years ago and Jack didn't spend all that much time with her anymore. She was twenty years old and living a life of her own, in a loving relationship that made Jack happy for her but made him feel even lonelier and craving a relationship himself. Jack maintained his view that a field agent shouldn't be involved in a romantic relationship but now without the distraction of his job, he could admit to himself that he didn't want to be alone anymore. Jack wanted companionship in his life and dared to think that a different type of job could potentially allow him to have a relationship and a life, however far in the future that was. Jack was only thirty eight and although in no rush to be in a relationship, he couldn't deny that this was a long term desire of his. Although Teri's loss still weighed heavily on Jack, he knew that it was time to move on. Jack's attempts at dating over the last few years had taught him the aspects in which he was and wasn't ready for a new relationship at the time and reflecting on this now, he was sure that at this point in his life he was ready. Jack knew it wouldn't be an easy or quick process, particularly given his difficulties in trusting people on a personal level and opening up to them, and deep down he wondered if he could truly love anyone like he had loved Teri but he hoped that when he met a special woman, the right woman, she would be able to understand him and he would be able to trust and love her and find happiness again.

Jack had started looking for employment opportunities weeks ago, utilising his contacts as his first resource and he found that there were numerous and varied positions out there for someone with his experience. Jack had started getting in contact with different agencies and setting up interviews. Jack had looked at work nationwide, knowing that although he would miss his daughter if he moved, he needed to make a fresh start and was unsure whether the memories in Los Angeles would forever prevent him from doing that there. Jack knew that he could always fly back to Los Angeles to see Kim, or fly her out to see him as much as they wanted or needed.

Jack's job hunting had been successful and he was offered the job that he had liked the sound of the most, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defence, James Heller. James was a man that Jack had only recently gotten to know, but a man he greatly admired and respected. James was direct like Jack, and had already learnt of Jack's heroin addiction being the reason he was fired from CTU prior to Jack's interview. James gave Jack the opportunity to explain the situation though and like Jack, James felt that he had incurred the habit as part of his work and was happy to hear that it was no longer an ongoing issue for Jack. James was fair and said that he didn't see it as an issue, provided Jack didn't give him a reason to and that he would let Jack's past stay in his past, an attitude that increased Jack's respect for him and an attitude Jack hoped he would have should he ever be in a similar situation to James. As expected, James knew a lot about Jack's past the good and the bad and spoke about all of this, and a range of other topics with Jack during the long interview. James indicated that he would be offering Jack the job at the time of the interview, as James had been more than impressed with Jack's resume, file and references and the interview only confirming what he already knew.

Jack waited for a formal offer before accepting and planning his move to Washington D.C. but the moment he left the interview, he had felt confident and known that this was the job he wanted. Jack felt that the role would give him the opportunity to serve his country and that he would be able to add value to the role given his firsthand experience in the workings and realities of the strategies and policies that the Department of Defence created. Although he had a lot to learn in some aspects of the role, Jack was confident that he would learn quickly and that it would be an exciting opportunity to learn and grow. In addition to this, Jack respected James and would be honoured to work for someone like him, a factor that was very important in Jack's eyes.

Kim was thrilled when Jack told her that he was finally leaving fieldwork, which only reiterated that this was the right choice for him. Jack knew that the role would be stressful and involve long hours, frequent domestic travel and even potential international travel. Jack didn't mind though, he had always worked in stressful environments involving long and unpredictable hours and was just glad that this job wouldn't be putting him or his family in any danger. Jack also had little to be at home for and was eager for work to distract him again. Jack was looking forward to starting on Monday and as he walked into his apartment and started pulling groceries out of bags, he couldn't help but feel that being fired from CTU might have been a blessing in disguise and finally given him the chance he needed to commit to a new life.

Audrey arrived home late on Friday night. Work was always busy but the workload had been nothing short of crazy lately and she was looking forward to the new Senior Advisor starting on Monday, hoping that he would be able to lessen her workload a little. Not that Audrey exactly had much motivation to finish work on time and rush home lately anyway. This evening was like most others, as she arrived home to a dark and empty house with little evidence that anybody even currently lived there as Paul and Audrey were hardly ever home. Recently Paul's business dealings had grown and intensified considerably, particularly along the West Coast and he spent most of his time on the opposite side of the country, even purchasing an apartment there for his frequent visits without consulting her. Paul earned a great deal of money and Audrey wasn't upset about his purchase from a financial perspective but she was upset that he didn't even think to discuss such a big decision with her. Audrey had also found out that Paul had travelled to Europe for business meetings a couple of times over the last few months without mentioning it to her, again leaving her to question who travels overseas albeit it usually only for a night or two, without mentioning it to their wife. Paul seemed to tell Audrey less and less about his travels lately, attempting to avoid the subject as Audrey had expressed concerns particularly over the past year that his being away so frequently was seriously affecting their marriage.

Audrey poured herself a glass of wine and knowing that Paul was a few hours behind her on the West Coast, gave him a call. He seemed happy enough to talk with her although their conversation didn't hold much depth. Audrey gently asked when he would be home next after him being away for the past week and only home for a few days prior to that. He sighed and explained that some extremely important meetings were happening over the next fortnight and that he probably wouldn't be home for two weeks' time. He sensed her disappointment and said "I'm sorry Audrey, it's just imperative that I am here for these dealings and Washington D.C. is too far to come home just for a night or two. I'll make it up to you when I get home". Audrey knew what that meant though as they had been there many times before. Paul would bring her an expensive gift, take her out to dinner somewhere fancy and order the finest champagne in an attempt to make it up to her. Paul would always initiate sex later on, not seeming to notice or care that that part of their marriage had lost the spark and intimacy it once had. Paul expected that an extravagant evening out followed by being together was all that was needed to put their marriage back on track but he never listened to Audrey when she told him that she didn't need or want grand gestures or expensive evenings out, that what she actually wanted was a real marriage, a partnership, someone to come home to at least half of the time, someone to laugh with, someone to kiss good night. Audrey craved a loving and intimate relationship more than anything yet her marriage was far from it and hadn't been what she craved for a long time now. Audrey looked at her shiny engagement and wedding rings, then around at the big, empty house and wondered how marriage could make someone feel so lonely. Audrey felt herself start to get emotional so quickly ended the conversation with Paul and hung up.

Audrey finished her wine and ate a small dinner as she watched some mindless television before heading to bed where she lay there realising that her marriage was really and truly failing. Audrey had learnt to admit to her personal faults and their faults as a couple that led their marriage to this point and she had been more than willing to work on these but without Paul's commitment to making things better, there wasn't a lot that she could do.

Paul and Audrey had married in their late twenties. They loved each other, had been together for a couple of years and saw it as a natural progression in their relationship. However, they were both extremely career focused and since they married each other their marriage had always functioned as two independent, driven people living their independent and career focused lives rather than a married couple committing to each other, making decisions that included each other, making sacrifices for each other and building a life together. Paul and Audrey had always spent a lot of time apart, satisfied with spending time together on an occasional weeknight or the weekend, whenever their schedules allowed. Just as much as Paul, Audrey had also worked long hours, travelled and not been home as much as she should have during their marriage. For a long time though, neither had given this arrangement much thought as it seemed to work for them without any issues. It enabled them to work on their careers and they simply enjoyed any time they did get to spend together. This type of relationship had an expiry date though and when it hit Audrey, it hit her hard.

Over the past year Audrey had identified a lot of these issues and had been trying hard to work on them to improve their marriage. Audrey had tried to prioritise Paul, their relationship and change things between them for the better but Paul was never engaged. His carelessness to her concerns made her feel rejected and even worse about things. Recently, after a year of trying, Audrey had felt herself giving up. Audrey had spent the last year desperately craving someone to love and someone to love her back, both emotionally and physically and achieving that with Paul was sadly only feeling more and more out of reach. Even when she and Paul were together, they had lost the spark, the connection, the love that they once had which made her question whether they still truly loved each other at all and whether things between them would ever improve. For the first time, Audrey seriously started to consider what her life would be like if she and Paul separated and eventually, likely divorced. Audrey couldn't deny that it would be easy to stay with Paul. They had security, money, status, friends and comfort in their relationship but Audrey was lonely and sad and didn't want to live the rest of her life in an unhappy marriage. Audrey didn't hate Paul and he didn't hate her, their marriage just wasn't working anymore and she just didn't see how anything would change between them for the better. Audrey cried softly as she laid in bed, before her exhaustion got the better of her and she fell asleep.