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Disclaimer: jake 2.0 and all related elements, characters and indicia © Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc., 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations-save those created by the authors for use solely on this website-are copyright Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc.

Author's note: Thank you to lynnnmonster for the beta! Happy reading, Kawcrow!

Pack Mentality
by Miss Pamela

Two weeks after the WolfPack debacle, Jake was still answering questions with "Hooah" and walking around looking like a "before" picture in an Ambien ad. Of course, this is because he wasn't actually sleeping—he would scream himself awake as soon as he closed his eyes. Some nights, he dreamed of his little brother bleeding all over the floor. Sometimes it was Diane, trapped and screaming.

Most nights, he dreamed of the Other Jake. The Other Jake was maybe about ten (Who was he kidding? Five at the most.) years older, a whole lot cooler and a shitload meaner. The Other Jake had ditched the NSA because they were "cramping his style" and he had learned all he could learn about kicking ass and covert ops. This particular Jake would have no trouble with shooting a friend, whether in the line of duty or not.

Jake was never sure whether he was afraid of becoming that Jake, or afraid not to.

Lou had given him some time off after his first week back on the job.

"You're no good to me like that, Foley."

"But I... the nanites, I need less sleep than..." He remembered turning to look at Diane, but she just gave him a tight smile and looked away.

"Foley. Take a nap. Go for a jog. Eat a goddamned sandwich. Get out."

He snapped to attention and delivered an exaggerated salute. "Yes, ma'am!"

Jake had gone straight to the hospital to visit Kyle, but he was sleeping. Jake watched him sleep for a while, until he couldn't take the beeping of the damned monitors anymore.

He went back again, two days later, but Kyle was still in a lot of pain and couldn't handle too long of a visit.

Jake gave up after that and didn't visit again, even when he heard that Kyle was recovering at home.

When the dreams started, he tried to run them away. He snuck into RFK Stadium night after night, reprogramming the security system with barely a second thought. Once there, he would run and run and run, until even the cameras couldn't catch him and even the nanites couldn't stop him from breathing hard. He'd collapse, panting, on the hard ground, until the stars swam back into focus and the nagging memories pushed him back home.

He went home and dreamt of blood seeping through his hands.

It was the final, terrifying dream that pushed him to visit Kyle. In the other dreams, he saw a grotesque future, or disembodied hands, or horrifying possibilities. Not in the last dream, which was the worst so far.

He dreamed about what really happened. He saw himself—him, Jake, now-Jake—shooting Kyle. He felt the harsh metal of the gun in his hand; felt himself turning away and leaving his friend bleeding on the cold concrete floor.

He woke up soaked in sweat, screaming. Damn. It was only nine. He hadn't even been asleep for fifteen minutes. The next thing he knew, he had showered, changed, and was on his way to Kyle's place.

Kyle answered on the second ring. He was in sweats and an old t-shirt, moving a little slowly, but he looked pretty much like the old Kyle again.

"Jake! Hey man, good to see you!"

Jake cringed. He should have come sooner. "Hey. Uh. How are you?"

Kyle made his way to the couch and gestured for Jake to sit in the adjoining chair. "Healing up nicely. In fact, I'll be back on desk duty in a week or two." He mock-shuddered. "I don't even want to think about whatever paperwork might be waiting for me. How's my desk? Overloaded yet?"

Jake twisted his hands in his lap. "You uh, overestimate my abilities. Even I can't see the office from my apartment."

"You haven't been back?"

"Lou gave me some time off."

"Uh-huh." Kyle looked at him closer. "Don't take this the wrong way, Foley, but you look like shit."

Jake laughed. "Is there a right way to take that?"

"Wiseass punk."

Jake sobered up and stared at the floor. He could count the loops in the rug, the fibers, the particles on the fibers. If he concentrated hard enough, he could see the shine on the floor between the weave.

"Jake? Seriously, what's up?"

"Will you stop being so damned nice to me?" Jake gripped the edge of the chair, willing it not to break.

Kyle just cocked an eyebrow at him.

"I shot you." Jake gritted out.

"Yes, you did."

"I was your friend and I fucking shot you and left you."

Kyle spoke slowly. "We talked about this. It's cool. I'm proud of you."

"It's not...I'm not...I'm not like that."

"You're not like what? You're a good agent. You kept your head, you followed orders. Jake, it was a nuke, okay? I can handle getting shot to stop a nuke."

Kyle leaned forward and clapped him on the shoulder. "Look at me. You're not like that. You're not one of them."

"It was so easy."

"Mmmm-hm. Easy. Which is why you're showing up at my house looking like the living dead."

Jake giggled, feeling a little hysterical. "Sleeping like a baby."

"Uh-huh. Okay. Let's get some things straight." He pointed at Jake. "Now, sit up and listen, soldier."

"Hooah," Jake mumbled.

"One. You acted like I, or Lou, or any other soldier or agent worth their salt would out there. You did what you had to do to save the mission. Period. End of story. The mission is what matters."

"Two. You didn't leave me. You contacted Lou and let her know what happened."

"Three. If you hadn't shot me, those other guys would have. You saved my life."

Jake scrubbed his hands through his hair. He was making sense, but... "I got in a lucky shot, I—"

"Lucky? Please. Jake, I know we give you shit for being a rookie, but between the nanites and your training, you're a damned good shot. Don't tell me you didn't know what you were doing."

Jake smiled a little. He did know, he tried to hit the right spot; he knew what would cause the least damage...the other guys would have shot Kyle's head off.

Kyle grinned back at him. "See? Trust me, this isn't my first injury in the line of duty."

He turned serious again. "But I know this was your first time having to make this kind of decision. It's not easy. Every agent has to do it, and, if they're lucky, it doesn't happen too often."

Jake thought about that for a few minutes. He felt better; lighter than he had felt in weeks. He did the best that he could. He saved Kyle's life. He stopped the nuke.

He felt the smile spreading across his face. "I did okay, huh?"

"Yeah, you did. Don't let it go to your head."

Jake held his hands up. "Lesson learned, man. Lesson learned." He caught Kyle's eye. "Does it ever get easier?"

"A little. Hopefully not too much, or you end up becoming Gant."


Kyle adjusted his position on the couch. "Hmmm, maybe I should have milked the invalid thing a little longer."

"Why, just to see me squirm?"

"Nah, because I'm dying for something other than pizza and Chinese." He collapsed against the back of the couch and pressed one hand to his forehead. "I'm feeling faint... I need…sustenance…"

Jake threw a pillow at him. "Jerk. Okay, your majesty. I'll buy and fly, okay?"

"You can fly now?"


"Ben's Chili. And it had better be hot."

Jake smirked. "Hot? I bet I can get it back here before the cheese melts."

"Cheese is for the impure."

Jake rolled his eyes and bowed on his way out the door.

Jake didn't bother with his car. He was faster on his own, anyways, and running helped him think.

It wasn't finished. He knew that. He probably had some bad dreams left in him, and a lot more that he hadn't even made yet. But he did his best. That was all anyone could ask. He had Kyle and Diane at his side and Lou at his back. He was a good agent. He'd make them proud.

He zipped down the back street, changing the lights and startling some pigeons. He felt like he was flying.