Summary: The first in the Thanksgiving verse. Jack tries to have the perfect Thanksgiving with his daughter but when Chloe gets drunk and Chase has to come over and help her, it ends up being a very different Thanksgiving then the one they planned.
“Chase,” Kim asked, staring at her father. “Chase is here? Having dinner with us. I knew this was a mistake.”
“Kim, it happened at the last minute.”
“How does someone just end up at Thanksgiving dinner at the last minute?”
“He’s here for Chloe. You know how close they are.”
“Chloe couldn’t possibly be asked to make it through one holiday without her trusty sidekick? She’s doing this to get back at me.”
“She’s not trying to get back at you. She got upset this morning, and I was busy cooking, so Chase came over to calm her down. He already gave up spending Thanksgiving with his daughter. It would be rude to ask him to leave now.”
“It’s rude of him to break up with me and then want to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It’s rude of her to bring him over here. It’s rude of you to ask me to be okay with this.”
“Fine, Kim. We’re all horrible, rude people. I just want today to be as nice as possible, all things considered. And Chloe can ask whoever she wants over here. This is her house too.”
“If you wanted today to be nice, you shouldn’t have decided that out of the five people in the room, one would be my exboyfriend. How is that not awkward?”
Chase walked in then with Chloe, his hand on the small of her back pushing her forward. “Hi Kimmie,” he said softly. “Fuck. Sorry. Old habit.” He looked at the floor.
“Who wants wine,” Jack asked. “Not you,” he pointed to Chloe.
“She can a little,” Chase said. “Half a glass, maybe.”
“You two are exactly the same, you know that,” Kim said.
“What’s that mean,” Chloe snapped, stopping when Chase grabbed her arm.
“We haven’t been introduced.” Barry stepped forward. “I’m Barry.” He shook Chase’s hand.
“Chase,” he muttered.
“She’s told me about you.”
“Yeah, I figured. I’m the evil ex. I get it. I even deserve it.”
“Chase,” Chloe said.
He held up his hand. “Chloe stop. Whatever you say will make things worse, so just don’t.”
She looked hurt.
He hugged her tightly. “You know I didn’t mean it like that. Go help Jack.”
“Kim said you have a daughter.”
“Yeah, Angela. She’s almost five.”
“You quit your job to protect her. That’s commendable.”
“Easy choice. She’s a great kid. Chloe mothers her, so she’s already smarter than I am.”
“Is this her?” Barry pointed to a frame picture.
Chase nodded. “Jack and Chloe took her to the circus.”
“She looks just like you,” Kim said quietly. “She always did, but the older she gets, the more you can see it.”
“I told you you could see her if you want to. I just don’t want you to come in and out of her life. I’m trying to do what’s right. I’m trying to protect her. I know you don’t believe me, but none of this is about hurting you Kimmie. Sorry. I don’t know why I can’t stop calling you that.”
“I have wine,” Chloe said upon reentering the room. “Here.” She shoved a glass in Chase’s hand.
“I don’t think I want any.”
“I never really liked wine. I don’t have a sophisticated enough palate to appreciate the complexities.”
“Have you been reading a thesaurus?”
“I’m not an idiot.”
“I know that. You’re just generally not so well spoken.”
“Holiday manners. Give that wine to somebody else Chloe. You don’t get to drink mine too.”
“Fine,” she snapped. She turned around and thrust the glass at Kim. “Here.”
“Maybe I’ll teach you holiday manners sometime.”
Chloe just glared at him.
“So Angela’s with your sister,” Kim asked.
“Yeah.” Chase was considering learning how to cook just to have an excuse to duck out during awkward conversations, since he was pretty sure that’s what Jack was doing. The only flaw in that was plan was that he almost burned down Chloe’s apartment trying to make toast one time.
Chloe finished her half glass of wine and handed him the empty glass.
“I don’t know what you want me to do with this,” he said, smiling at her. “I’ll go get you some water. Barry needs some wine, too.” He tried not to look too relieved as he turned around.
“Hey,” Chloe said, catching up to him in the hallway. “What part of ‘I’m gonna stay here and help you’ means, until I leave you in a room with people who hate you?”
“They don’t hate you,” he sighed. “It got a little intense. I needed a breather.”
She grabbed his arm, stopping him, and moved around him until she could see his face. “Are you okay,” she asked softly.
“Yeah,” he said, shaking his head. “Of course. Didn’t mean to worry you.”
“Don’t lie to me. You know I hate lying.”
“It’s just hard. Harder than I though, seeing Kim again. Now I can her Kim. That figures.”
Chloe hugged him. “Go home Chase. Go be with Angela. Leave me to clean up my own mess for once.”
“You wouldn’t leave me. I’m not leaving you.”
“I didn’t know this would be harder for you than it is for me.”
“I like taking care of you,” he whispered, pulling away from her. “Let’s get that water.”
Chloe followed him into the kitchen where Jack watched them both curiously.
“Chloe needs water,” Chase explained, “and the shrink needs wine.”
“His name is Barry,” Jack sighed. “And if you hadn’t hurt her so badly, maybe she wouldn’t have fallen for someone like that.”
Chase was silent, filling up a glass with water and handing it to Chloe. Jack filled a glass with wine and took Chloe by the hand, leading her out of the kitchen.
Chase stared out the window, steeling himself to go back when he heard soft footsteps behind him.
Kim refilled her wineglass and opened the fridge, searching around before pulling out a bottle of beer and handing it to him. She took him by the arm and pulled him out the doors and onto the deck.
“What are you doing?” he sighed.
“Let’s just talk and get this over with so we can have some semblance of a normal dinner.”
“You want to talk to me?” he asked.
“Barry says I need to.”
“How’d you end up with a guy like that Kimmie?” he asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
“You don’t get to judge me,” she snapped. “After everything…you left me Chase! You left!”
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I’ve always been sorry for that.”
“This is so screwed up,” she muttered, staring at her wineglass. “All of this. You, me, my dad, Chloe. We’re all so fucked up.”
“Everybody but your shrink, huh?”
Kim laughed bitterly. “He told me I had daddy issues. Like that was something I didn’t know. I mean, my dad left me, so I found a guy who was exactly like my dad, practically his mirror fucking image, and then acted totally shocked when he acted just like my dad and left me too.”
“And that’s how you ended up with a shrink,” he asked, taking a sip of his beer. “You wanted somebody who wasn’t anything like Jack Bauer, you can’t do a lot better than a shrink.”
“It would be a hell of a lot easier if you guys were just awful, all the time, if you didn’t have so many damn good qualities. Then I could just walk away and say to hell with it. Why can’t my life ever just be easy?” she asked softly, her voice breaking.
Chase grabbed her, instinctively holding her to his chest. “I’m sorry Kimmie,” he whispered, rubbing her back.
“I got pregnant,” she whispered. “It wasn’t your’s. Or Barry’s. It was just some guy. And when I was about four months, I lost him. So I went to therapy and I met Barry and I was so tired of being lonely Chase, I was so damn tired of being this little girl lost that I’d been since my mom died. I just wanted to be normal again.” She started to laugh again, almost hysterically. “Because nothing says normal and well adjusted like screwing your shrink.”
“Shh,” he soothed. “You’re gonna be okay. I’m sorry Kim. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there.”
“Let’s just get today over.”
“And then what? You want me to watch you go back to your life knowing how unhappy you are? Kimmie I can’t do that. I…I love you.”
She shoved him. “You don’t love me enough to be with me, you asshole, so what good does that do for me, exactly? You left. Chase, you left me. My dad left me. I lost my baby. But Barry…he doesn’t leave me, okay? And maybe I need that more than some guy who will take his kid and leave, even if I did love you more. Even if Angela might be the closest thing to a child I ever have,” she whispered, the anger suddenly drained from her body. “It breaks my heart, that I don’t even know where she is or what she’s doing.”
Chase reached for her again. “After dinner, come by the house. You and Barry. Come spend some time with her.”
“I can’t get close to you again,” Kim said, stepping way from him and draining her glass. “I can’t…I can’t live my life waiting for you to leave again.”
“I won’t leave this time,” he promised.
“This whole conversation was a bad idea,” she said, moving towards the house.
He deftly stepped in front of her and blocked her. “I love you. Do you still love me?”
“I doesn’t matter.”
“Kimmie…Kim it has to matter.”
“No,” she insisted. “You’re just…you’re playing the hero. You want to ride in and rescue the damsel in distress and then what? What happens when I stop needing you to rescue me?”
“We settle down and raise a family. Try to give Angel some siblings.”
“Chase,” she said, softly but firmly, “we tried. We didn’t work together. We can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”
“I’m not pretending. I’m trying to tell you I made a mistake and I want to fix it. Please, let me try.”
Before she could answer he pressed his lips to hers, softly. When he pulled back he rested his forehead against hers.
“I forgot how good you always tasted,” he whispered. “God I miss you Kimmie.”
“We have to go,” she said, her voice shaky as she pulled away from him and moved to the door. “We’ll ruin dinner.”
“Darlin’,” Chase grinned when he answered the phone, “you’re up early.”
“Chasey,” Chloe said weakly.
Chase frowned, fastening Angela into her car seat. “What’s wrong?”
“I told you how sorry I was, right, for ruining Thanksgiving?”
“About a thousand times in a week, which is impressive. And I told you not to worry about it. What’s going on?”
“I have the flu,” she sighed.
“My poor darlin’.”
“Can you take me to the doctor Chasey? I feel like crap, I need to get some medicine or something.”
“He’s with Kim. She broke up with Barry so he’s helping her move into her new apartment.”
“She broke up with the shrink?”
“Yeah. Right after Thanksgiving dinner, I guess.”
“Wow,” he murmured.
“So? Can you take me to the doctor?”
“Sure. Of course Chloe. I just have to drop Angela off at school and then I’ll be there and we’ll have you fixed up in no time.”
“You don’t have the flu,” the doctor informed Chloe.
“Then what’s wrong with me?”
“Congratulations Ms. O’Brian, you’re about eight weeks pregnant.” The woman smiled at Chase. “You’re going to parents.”
“Oh,” Chloe slowly.
“Is she okay? I mean, she’s been really sick,” Chase said.
“Just morning sickness,” the doctor explained. “There are some medicines we can try if it gets too bad.”
Chloe tugged on Chase’s hand, pulling him to her side. “Thanksgiving,” she whispered. “I had all that wine.”
He frowned and turned back to the doctor. “She got a little drunk on Thanksgiving. She’s worried it might have hurt the baby.”
“Generally, as long as it’s not a regular occurrence and she stops drinking then your baby should be fine.” She paused. “Any more questions?”
“I’m pregnant,” Chloe repeated once Chase got her in the car.
“Yeah,” he confirmed. He reached across the seat to pat her stomach. “You’ve got a little baby Bauer in there.”
“Jack,” she said suddenly. “I have to tell Jack!”
“Call him up.”
“I can’t call him. You can’t tell someone they’re gonna be a father over the phone.”
Chase shrugged. “You’ll have to forgive me. Rebecca didn’t bother to tell me at all.”
“You have to take me to see Jack,” Chloe instructed.
“Okay. Where is he?”
Chloe dug around in her purse for the address. “Here,” she said, handing it to him. “That’s where Kim’s living. And go slow. I might have to throw up again.”
Chloe stood nervously outside of the apartment while Chase leaned against the wall, watching her.
“Are you gonna knock,” he finally asked.
She frowned. “I’m think I’m gonna be sick.”
He sighed. “You’re just nervous. You don’t need to be, Jack’s gonna be thrilled.” He reached around her and knocked on the door.
Kim opened the door and stared at the two of them. “Chloe…you brought Chase.”
“She needs to talk to Jack,” Chase offered. “I’m just the driver.”
“Dad,” Kim called over her shoulder, “Chloe’s here.”
Jack appeared behind his daughter and stared at them both curiously. “Something wrong?”
Chase nudged Chloe forward towards Jack carefully. “Go on,” he urged.
“I’m pregnant,” she blurted out.
Jack reached out and pulled her into his arms. “Oh baby,” he said softly, kissing her tenderly.
“I can’t remember the last time I was this happy,” he answered, kissing her again. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’m going to throw up again,” she sighed.
He steered her down the hall and towards the bathroom.
“How long does this morning sickness last, anyway?” she muttered.
“She’ll be fine,” Kim assured Chase, urging him into the apartment. “Morning sickness is totally normal and it usually goes away after a few months.”
He nodded slowly. “Were you that sick?”
She shrugged. “Some days. I’m sorry…I can’t…I really can’t talk about this stuff.”
“I’m an idiot, I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
“It looks like it’s going to be kind of unavoidable,” she sighed as they heard Chloe retching through the door. Kim moved into the small kitchen and searched through the cabinets, making toast and tea.
“I’m proud of you,” he murmured, following her. “I know it wasn’t easy for you, breaking up with Barry, but you did a good thing. It shows how strong you are.”
Kim was silent, stirring the tea.
“You got a nice place here,” he said, beginning to ramble to fill up the space between them.
She gave him a weak smile. “It’s no house on the beach.”
“I miss that place too.” He paused. “Come home with me Kimmie.”
“I have to take this to Chloe”, she said, finishing the toast. “It’ll help.”
“Chase,” she sighed. “I’m sorry. I wish I could believe you, I do, but I trusted you once and it broke my heart and I’d be an idiot if I did the same thing all over again.”
“I know I don’t deserve another chance,” he admitted.
“Can we just not do this any more,” she pleaded. “Chase please, I can’t feel like I’m losing you again every time we talk about it.”
He nodded sadly. “You should take that to Chloe.”
“Thanks,” she whispered, slipping around him.