Summary: The agents hunt for the second bomb.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Except Nightmare. Jen owns Bea.
Jack sighed. "This isn't a request, Ava. It's an order."
"You're not my boss." She paused. "Okay, I guess technically you are, but –"
"Tony agrees with me."
Ava rolled her eyes. "If Tony had his way, I'd never do fieldwork again."
Jack gave her a knowing smile. "That's because he cares about you. A lot."
"Whatever. He's a punk."
"Look, Ava," he said, his voice and eyes serious. "You're injured. Go back to CTU, get the all-clear from Medical. Then you can come back."
"But what if –"
"We can handle it," Jack interrupted. "The bomb squad is already on their way to the courthouse and Michelle is on her way. We've got it."
Ava glared at him, but she knew that she had lost the argument. "Fine," she conceded. "But as soon as Medical gives me the green light, I'm outta there."
Jack smirked. "Understood."
"You got hurt again."
Ava looked up from what the doctor was doing to see Tony walking into the room. His tone had been light, but she could see the worry in his eyes, the way his gaze flicked between her face and her injured leg.
"If it's any consolation, I didn't mean to."
He chuckled. "I don't think you ever really do." His smile faded as he looked at her seriously. "Are you okay?"
She shrugged. "It hurts. But I'll be fine."
Tony looked at her pointedly. "You'd say that if you had three bullets in you."
Dr. West straightened from examining her leg and sighed. "She's actually right this time. The shrapnel didn't do any serious damage."
Ava's face brightened. "Am I clear then?"
Putting his hands on his hips, the doctor gave her a hard stare. "How many times have I patched you up?"
"A few." When his jaw tightened, she laughed. "Oh come on, Evan. You said it yourself – it didn't do any serious damage. And there's a crazy guy out there with bombs. I need to be in the field."
Evan looked over at Tony helplessly. "Medically, I can't say no."
Tony sighed, throwing up his hands. "Fine. Let her go."
"You guys act like I'm a felon you're trying to keep in jail," she muttered.
"I guess it's for the best," Tony allowed. "With my luck, if I made you stay here, CTU would get blown up."
"What are you saying?"
"That you're a magnet for gun fights and explosions."
Slipping her shoes back on, Ava followed him out of Medical and back toward the main floor. "That's not very nice, you know."
"It might be the truth though," he joked.
Ava just stuck her tongue out at him.
Chloe tried to focus on her computer screen, but she could feel Ava's eyes on her. The agent was sitting backwards on a chair behind her, her chin resting on the backrest. She turned the chair from side to side slowly, not saying a word. Finally, Chloe sighed and turned around.
"Are you just going to sit there and stare?"
Ava stopped turning. "Does it bother you?"
"What are you doing, anyway? I thought Medical cleared you. You can go to the courthouse now."
Chloe rolled her eyes. "And as much as this awesome event deserves celebrating, maybe we should focus on finding that bomb and disarming it."
"Yeah, well, terrorists tend to do that to me."
Ava frowned. "I've been thinking about Angel."
Chloe's gaze narrowed. "Do you think you've figured out who he is?"
She shook her head. "No. But…it's got to be someone from my life. Someone that's connected to me somehow."
Ava sat up straighter. "He knows too much about me to just know me from some file. He knows my favorite television shows. As far as I can remember, that's not in any of my paperwork."
"Do you really know anyone this sick and demented?"
"I don’t think so…" she said slowly. "But…maybe it's not someone I know well."
"So how do we find him?"
Ava stood up, a determined look on her face. "Rip my life apart. He's gotta be there somewhere."
Chloe looked uncomfortable. "Are you sure? If I do that…I can get into every file, Ava. Nothing's going to stay hidden."
The agent pointed at the screen. "I don't care what skeletons you come across, Chloe. Just find this bastard."
"Is everybody out?" Michelle asked as she joined Curtis in the courthouse.
The agent nodded. "Place is empty. Now we just have to find the bomb."
She looked at her watch. "Cutting it a little close, aren't we? The thing's supposed to go off in a half hour. If we don't find it soon…"
"We've got agents searching every square inch of this place. We'll find it." He turned and started walking down the corridor. "Come on, we've got the judges' chambers."
The two of them moved quickly, but made a thorough sweep of the places they passed. There was no telling where the bomb had been hidden – nothing in the puzzle gave them a clue – and they could pay with their lives if they missed it.
After ten minutes of searching, they came up with nothing new. Michelle sighed and threw her arms up.
"There's nothing here, Curtis."
He stood up, nodding. "Something about this isn't right." He checked his watch. "We need to get everybody out of the building."
"So we just count the courthouse as a loss?" she asked.
"What else can we do?" he countered. "Either we lose the building, or we stay and lose a lot of lives as well – including our own."
Michelle nodded. "You're right. Let's go."
Ava stood in the middle of the floor, staring at the video feed from the courthouse and biting one of her nails. Tony came up to stand beside her, trying to figure out what was going on in her head.
"This isn't right," she mumbled.
"What are you talking about?"
"This." She gestured vaguely at the video feed. "It's too easy, Tony."
"Maybe he thought it would take us longer to figure it out. And it's not that easy – we still haven't found the bomb."
She shook her head. "No. Something isn't right. We're missing something." She turned suddenly to face him. "The first time, we thought he was hitting a big building and we evacuated – and instead he went after a coke machine where kids hang out. He wanted somebody to get hurt. Now we think he's going to hit a courthouse, and we've evacuated again. He gets no deaths that way, Tony."
He thought about it for a minute, unhappily realizing that she was right. "Where does that leave us then?" he asked, hopelessness creeping into his voice. "If it's not the courthouse, we have no leads."
Ava bit her lip. "There's always a clue, Tony," she murmured. "We just can't see it yet." She turned and started running for the door.
"Where are you going?" Tony called.
"To the courthouse!" she threw over her shoulder.
When the phone rang, Jen stared at it balefully. She had just spent twenty minutes trying to lure Nightmare out from under the bed, and she really didn't want to get up from the couch. But by the third ring, she had pushed herself up from the cushions and was headed for the phone. Maybe it's Ava telling me she's coming for her evil cat, she thought.
No one answered, but Jen wasn't entirely that no one was there. Straining her ears, she could have sworn she heard a breath before the other line hung up. She slowly put the phone back into its cradle, deep in thought. She had been friends with Ava for too long to let things pass as mere coincidence or happenstance.
Walking back to the living room, Jen sat down, trying to forget the call. She turned the TV, flipping through the channels, but nothing caught her interest. Sighing, she turned it off again, tossing the remote to the other side of the couch. She tapped her feet against the carpet and tried to think of something else to take her mind of her nagging doubts.
"Oh screw it," she finally said.
Jen pushed herself off of the couch and went to the hall closet. Rummaging through its contents, she eventually pulled out a large cat carrier and brought it to her bedroom. Her white kitten was laying on the comforter, fast asleep.
"Sorry, Bea," she muttered. "But we're taking a little trip."
Gently, she lifted the sleeping kitty and placed her in the back of the carrier. Bea didn't even stir; she just continued on with her nap as Jen smiled at her. "What a good girl." She turned her attention to the bed skirt. "And now for the Wicked Witch of the West."
In the end, it only took her fifteen minutes and three long gashes down her right arm before she had Nightmare in the carrier with Bea. The black cat stared at the kitten in disgust, as though she wasn't quite sure what it was. Jen brought her face to the caged front, holding a towel to her arm to stop the bleeding.
"You touch my cat, Nightmare, you die."
She brought the carrier downstairs, ignoring Nightmare's cries. Then she grabbed her purse and keys before heading out the door.
Ava saw her mistake almost as soon as she arrived on the scene. The courthouse was completely empty now – even the agents had come out, knowing that the bomb was supposed to go off any minute. Policemen, agents, EMTs and the bomb squad were all set up in the middle of the street, the command post being somewhere near the middle of the chaos.
As she ran toward them, Ava glanced in the storefront window that had been in the puzzle picture. The clock was still visible, but it was no longer the focal point of the reflection. Instead, it was filled with the ambulances, fire trucks, and emergency vehicles that took over the block.
Frantic, her eyes scanned the throng, looking for someone that she knew. "CURTIS!" she screamed as soon as she saw him.
At the sound of her voice, he turned. She could see the frown on his face as he registered her presence, the desperation in her voice.
And then it all went white.