By 10:16 Jack had made his decision, and by 10:18, he had a plan.
The truth of it was that Peter’s schoolboy style wasn’t an act. He’d been raised in Glendale, Arizona by his maternal grandparents, and they’d trained him up to be polite with a combination of what his grandma called “beatings and sweets,” rewarding good behavior and smacking the sass out of him when necessary. Sir and ma’am came naturally to him, and so while his aw-shucks habits weren’t an act, he was conscious of their usefulness during interrogations. He was an instinctive good cop.
He walked out of Jack Bauer’s house sure that Teri Bauer knew more than she was saying, but equally sure that she had no information about any personnel conflicts inside CTU. He’d watched her closely while they talked. When she’d mentioned that Jack never talked to her about what he’d been doing, her eyes had moved up and left, an indication that she was accessing the creative side of her brain. When she claimed that he never mentioned personnel conflicts her eyes flicked down and right, usually suggesting use of the brain’s factual side.
Peter got into his car and drove away in the fading twilight. He hadn’t gone more than two blocks when a Crown Victoria pulled up beside him. The window slid down, and a man in sunglasses flashed a badge and motioned for him to pull over. Peter complied, rolling to the curb. He was tempted to get out of the car, but he knew that if he was on the job and pulled someone over, even another Federal agent, he’d want them to stay put. Common courtesy.
Two men got out of the Crown Vic, both wearing half-decent blue suits and inexpensive, comfortable dress shoes. They split off, one to each side of Peter’s car. The one on the driver’s side, who looked Japanese, showed his badge again. FBI.
“Agent Jiminez, I’m Jason Fujimora, FBI, and that’s
Special Agent Holmquist.”
“You want to see my ID?” Peter asked.
“We know who you are, Agent Jiminez,” Holmquist said, making Peter turn his head to look the other way. “We just wanted to pass on a quick word.”
“Lay off the Bauer case,” Fujimora said.
Peter swiveled his head again. “That’s five. Words, I mean.”
Fujimora ignored that. “There’s nothing for you to find there.”
Peter smiled a friendly smile. “Well, fellas, if there’s nothing to find there, there’s no harm in looking. Nothing wasted but my time.”
“Wouldn’t want you to waste the taxpayers’ money,” said Holmquist. This time Peter didn’t bother to look. “Bauer’s in jail for good reason, and he’ll stay put. Understood?”
“Not really,” Peter replied. “Why you guys? Was Tintfass involved with the FBI? Informing for you, maybe? You guys pissed that Bauer offed him?”
“Bauer’s in the zoo where he belongs,” Fujimora leaned in a little, resting his hands on Peter’s window frame. “Just don’t disturb the animals too much. No one wants to get bitten. Good talking to you.”
Kris Czikowlis plucked a blue pen out of the pocket of her white medical coat and began scribbling on a notepad. It was standard stuff, but she always felt better when she made notes: Get medical history. Seizures? Family history. Strokes? She used layman’s terminology because it prompted her to use the same words with the family.
The patient lying on the bed in front of her was a male, mid-forties, Mr. Ryan Chappelle. Some sort of government employee or cop. Not overweight, although of course that didn’t rule out some sort of heart condition. No prior signs of distress, until he’d collapsed less than an hour earlier. By the time he arrived at UCLA Med he was comatose.
History of drug use?
He wouldn’t be the first government employee, even police officer, to use drugs, and the right drugs in the wrong hands could turn the brain off like a light switch.
A man in a gray suit walked into the ICU, tugging at his tie. He saw the patient and then Kris. His eyes slid down her body and then back up to her eyes. But he did it quickly, and that passed for politeness these days.
“You’re his doctor?” the man said, offering his hand. “Chris Henderson.”
Kris replaced her pen and shook his hand. “I’m Dr. Czikowlis. Are you family?”
“No, colleagues. I was there when he collapsed. Do you know what happened?”
“Not yet,” she said. “He’s stable now, but comatose. Did you give a history to the paramedics?”
Henderson looked at Chappelle. On his best days the Regional Director looked thin. Lying in the ICU he was practically skeletal. “As much as I could. We’re not that close, really. But he always seemed to be pretty healthy.”
“We’ll find out what’s going on,” Dr. Czikowlis promised. “I’m ordering blood work and a few other tests.”
“What will the blood work show?”
“Anything in his system, drugs, like that.”
Henderson handed her a card that listed him with the Department of Homeland Security. It was official enough to look important, without giving away any classified information about CTU. “It’s fairly important that we get him well as soon as possible,” he said. “Also, it’s standard procedure for us to keep track of any information that goes out. Please let me know where the blood work is being sent.” She wrote it down for him.
“Thanks,” he said. “Will you call me the minute you know anything?”
“Of course,” the doctor said. “Is he. Look, I don’t know what you guys do, but is this related to his work? Was he doing something. Is he a spy?”
Henderson chuckled. “No, he’s a bureaucrat. But he’s an important bureaucrat, so please try to get him better.”
10:30 P.M. PST Union Station, Los Angeles
He came up from San Diego on the Pacific Surfliner and sighed as the train rolled into L.A.’s Union Station. He loved trains or, more specifically, he had a love-hate relationship with them. When the trains ran on time, their precision was a thing of beauty and, as Keats had said, A thing of beauty is a joy forever. But the trains often did not run on time, and the result was discord. Disharmony. Chaos.
He liked train stations and subways more than airports because they usually displayed maps of the tracks, concise representations of the elaborate systems of paths, cars moving on paths, people getting on cars moving on paths.
The web of our lives is of a mingled yarn. Shakespeare, which play?
He stepped off the Surfliner and into the crowd of travelers. A family composed of a man, a woman, and two twin girls of about nine years passed. The girls were pulling matching pieces of Coach luggage on wheels, and he noticed instantly that the woman constantly looked back to the girls while the man looked to the train schedule. Fulfilling their roles: father-leader, mother-protector. Those were their roles in this situation, but change the situation, he thought, and see how quickly their roles change. Grab one of the girls, smash her head with his fist, and then suddenly the father becomes the protector and the mother becomes the guide, leading them away from danger. Comfortably predictable.
A man in a respectable black suit saw him standing still in the middle of the crowd and mistook him for someone lost. Mistook him for a sheep. The man approached and held out a pamphlet called The Watchtower. “Have you heard the word, my friend?”
He smiled. “I have heard seven from you, and will probably hear more.”
“If you’re looking for guidance, you’ll find it here.” He indicated the pamphlet.
He was enjoying this. He had learned long ago to find pleasure in minor distractions, rather than being annoyed by them. “Will it show me how to get to the Staples Center?”