Chapter 4

"Follow my lead" were the first words spoken by Jack Bauer while exiting the room with Tony. In all the years working as an anti-terrorism special agent at CTU, he had always been a natural leader, eager to do whatever he thought it was right even if it meant to go against whoever was in charge at the time, Tony included. Tony followed him through the long hallway.

Arrived at the end of the corridor, Jack gave the signal to stop in order to check if someone was arriving through the perpendicular way where they needed to go. He then took a small mirror from his pocket and used it to look without the risk of being exposed. A man was indeed spotted towards the end, checking one of the dead bodies they left before on their way in. Soon more men would have spread throughout the facility looking for them. They needed to take him out without warning the others.

Jack put back the mirror and quickly moved to the opposite side of the corridor, in front of Tony. A couple of glances and gestures were all he had to do to get Tony understand his plan. They'd been working as team for so long that no words were required to get into each other's mind anymore, even after what'd happened the year before. For a moment, the memory of that tragic day almost seemed to be disappeared.

The man in the hallway heard a little noise coming from the end of it and immediately went to check what it was with his gun drawn. Before he had the chance to turn left into Tony's direction, a hand from behind had already covered his mouth, while a knife was quietly slitting his throat from side to side.

Jack let the body fall gently on the floor and then resumed his run with Tony. They had to make another turn and then proceed towards the staircase. Suddenly, two men appeared and began shooting at them. Jack and Tony's response was immediate and the men fell lifeless on the ground with bullets in their heads. Silence had been broken now and they had to expect more resistance on their way out.

Jack ran through the stairs and stopped halfway up to shoot another hostile coming towards them, while Tony was proceeding to the ground floor. Then, he started climbing up again, having Tony covering him from the top of the stairs and killing another man behind him.

Other shots were heard while they began running again.

"We need to take cover – Jack screamed as the shots came closer to them – Here!"

They both hid down behind a short metal cupboard while the shooting continued. Noticing Tony's expression of pain and heavy breathing, Jack had to make sure he could still go on.

"We're almost at the exit point, I need you to hold on. Can you do it?", asked Jack alarmed.

"Yeah, I'm fine", replied mechanically Tony.

"Ok", whispered Jack before emptying his whole magazine at the hostiles, killing a couple more of them.

"I'm empty", he said, looking at his gun, after having taking cover again. Then, his eyes fell on the gun of one of the men lying on the floor not so far from them.

"Cover me!", Jack yelled while heading for the gun.

"A'right", Tony nodded before getting up and starting shooting towards the men.

With a loaded gun again, Jack took care of the remaining men and then they both reached a door, facing the outside.

"It's locked, Jack", Tony stated with disappointment after trying to open it.

"I got it", Jack responded while extracting some plastic explosive from his pocket. Then, he started placing it on the door as Tony remained with his gun drawn at the entrance of the room.

After a few moments, Jack's work was done.

"All right, step back!", he shouted as they both moved away from the door. Then, a blast freed their way to the outside of the base. Seeing more hostiles coming, Jack stayed still and began shooting at them.

"I cover you – he screamed at Tony – Go!"

Tony glared at him for a second, then decided to run towards the van that was waiting for them just outside that entrance. The rear door of the van opened and Tony got on, sitting next to Renee.

"Where is Jack?", she asked, worried to not see him arriving.

Tony stayed quiet, still breathing heavily for the run. Then, they both stared at the entrance of the facility for a few moments that seemed to never pass, waiting for Jack to show up.

He did eventually get out, reaching the van just in time to avoid being shot. A few more bullets hit the back of the truck as soon as the door was closed.

"Go, go!", screamed Renee to the driver in the front. Then, the truck started moving fast towards the exit street.

Inside the van, both Jack and Tony were still struggling to catch their breath. Noticing some blood on Jack's arm, she immediately asked:

"Are you ok?"

Jack looked down to his sleeve that he must had soaked in blood when taking the gun from one of the hostiles.

"Yeah, it's not mine.", he replied.

Then Renee turned to Tony, fighting hard not to think about what he had done to her colleagues the last time they had seen each other. Spotting his weapon, she abruptly ordered:

"Give me the gun".

A little confused, Tony surrendered it straightaway, consuming the last bit of energy he still had in his body. Was she really thinking that he would have used it against them just after having freed him from his captors? But then he remembered how he already tried to kill them in the past: maybe it wasn't so crazy for her not to trust him.

With Tony's gun in her hand, Renee's struggle became more evident as she nervously ran her fingers on the barrel. A while later, her thoughts grew up so loud in her mind that she couldn't help but to let them flow out.

"You know what's funny, Tony? That the same FBI that you bombed last year, has just come here to save your ass." she said with a little grin on her face. "I wonder what Larry would think about that…", she added while some tears started filling her eyes.

In front of her, Jack stared at her, a little concerned.

"Would he be proud? Would he be ashamed?", she continued, getting more emotional the more she was talking. "But the truth is…Larry can't think anything, because you strangled him to death, you son of a bitch!"

Screaming the last sentence, she quickly removed the safety from the gun and pointed it right in Tony's face.

"What the hell are doing?! We need him alive!", shouted Jack immediately, raising his gun at her. Tony, on the other hand, remained completely still.

"He'd been my mentor for 9 years and he was my friend…", continued Renee, talking to Tony, while crying and ignoring Jack. "He had a ten years old son, who will never see his father again, do you know that?"

Tony lowered his eyes. Killing Larry wasn't one of the things he was proud of, but, at the time, he had been the first having figured out his double play and he had been left with no choice but to stop him.

"Renee, put the gun down, now!", insisted Jack, trying to regain her control.

"Or what? You're gonna shoot me, Jack?" she angrily asked, turning towards him.

"You know I would if I had to." he responded softly, but with a very serious tone. Then, getting more emotional he begged: "Please, don't make me do it."

Renee stood still, keeping her gun aimed at Tony with one hand and using the other to wipe out some tears from her eyes.

"Turn around", she ordered to Tony, still mad.

"Renee, please. You know this isn't the right way. Tony may have information that could save hundreds of innocent lives today, I can't let you do this.", said Jack, trying to break through to her. "Larry would've never wanted it to end up like this and you know it."

"I said, turn around", she persisted, trying to ignore Jack again. "And put your hands behind your back."

Tony followed the order again, with no resistance. Once in control of Tony's hands, Renee slowly put the gun on the empty seat next to her, reached for the handcuffs in her pocket and used them to secure his wrists. Then, with a brooding tone, she added with a low voice, directed to Tony:

"But don't think this is over. You're gonna pay for what you've done, spending the rest of your life in a federal prison. Don't think that just because we saved you today, you can walk free."

Tony listened to her with resignation, without saying a word, while Renee turned her eyes away from him and dried her last tears. In front of her, Jack, seeing that the situation was again under control, slowly put his gun back too. Still upset of what he'd just seen, he stared at her, sighing both with anger and relief. This could have really end up badly for all of them.