Jack Balances Burdens
by cha-cha mia

Jack crushed his fist into the closet door; glad he had not yet opened his office to prying outside eyes. He was only vaguely aware of the pain which was almost drowned in his body's screaming need for the drug. That single vial called to him even while his brain searched frantically for a different kind of fix.

Chase was going to be a tough sell. He could see himself in the kid. He wondered if that wasn't part of what Kim saw in him, too. Jack knew it wasn 't unusual for daughters to fall for guys who were a lot like their fathers. He had always, but especially since Teri's death, hoped Kim would have better sense than to become involved with a man who was even remotely similar to her father.

He'd helped her get hired on with C.T.U. so he could protect her, not so she could fall in love with a kid who was a younger version of himself. When Kim dropped the little bomb about her relationship with Chase, it had taken all of Jack's willpower, on a day when that willpower was already being sorely tested, for him not to come completely unglued and order her to end it there and then. He'd been so careful to keep his facial expressions and voice neutral. He had reminded himself that she was a grown woman; even if he would always think of her as his little girl, and that she had a functioning brain. and hormones.

He'd been wrong bringing her into this world of his. Another in a long series of miscalculations on his part, but if he could see to it that nothing more than her heart got broken. . He'd been the direct cause of so much loss in her life, from her mother to that other boyfriend, Miguel, but there was no way this could have a happy ending. Nobody knew that better than Jack did. Relationships and agents weren't a good mix. As bad as he knew it might be if he interfered in this, he knew first hand how much worse things could turn out if he didn't.

But how to do it? If he forbad her seeing Chase, she'd either do it behind his back or flaunt it in his face. Either way, he risked losing her, again. If he played on Chase's loyalty to him and asked him to end it with Kim, he' d probably lose an excellent partner and still lose Kim if she discovered what he'd done. The consequences of either option were unacceptable, and since he couldn't see any other through the haze of withdrawal, Jack decided to cut his losses.

If one had to be sacrificed, it could only be the partner. As much as he liked and trusted Chase, he couldn't lose his daughter. If this was what Kim wanted, he'd see to it that Chase was removed from harm's way. Hell, Jack actually preferred working alone. Worked better alone. He knew it was going to piss the kid off. Given the same circumstances, he'd have been pissed off, too. Too bad. He would do this for Kim.

Jack unclenched his fists, holding out his hands. They were shaking. This time, he wondered if it was the heroin calling or the decision he had just been forced to make. He suspected it was a little of both. This was not good. Especially not today. He needed his partner and God knew, he needed the smack, but he didn't need this. God damn them for making him do this, especially today.


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