When he discovers he has been framed for the assassination of the President of the United States, and that Russian terrorists are planning to release nerve gas into a shopping mall, Jack springs back into action. Derek tails him, and they are thrown together for a morning-full of helicopter jaunts and last-minute rescues.
Jack keeps apologizing for getting Derek involved, but the boy doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he seems to relish working side by side with Jack, like a superhero's sidekick or one of the Adventure Boys in pre-1940s boys' books. He refuses to leave even when he gets an opportunity.
When will I see you again?” Derek asks. This is an odd question to ask of his mother’s boyfriend: the use of “I” suggests that he expects a more direct involvement, and “see you” seems to evoke romantic dates rather than outings to the ball park.
Misty-eyed, Jack admits that he will be staying with the CTU, that this is a permanent goodbye. Then he envelopes Derek in an amazingly enthusiastic full-body hug, his face against Derek’s neck. Again, he seems to have forgotten that Derek is his girlfriend’s son. He does not treat Diane this way; their goodbye is courteous at best.
Jack may imagine himself a “good father,” trying to “be there,” become a “man around the house” for Derek, but through the episodes the bond does not appear at all custodial; indeed, Derek rescues Jack nearly as much as he is rescued. And, for the first time in the series, the bond is not deferred by heterosexual imagining: Derek has no “bad father,” so there is no paternal competition, and he expresses no heterosexual interest of any sort.
I don't know why, but the boys Jack rescues are usually played by actors who have significant gay-themed roles in their backgrounds. Brady Corbet played a troubled asexual teen who buddy-bonds with a gay teen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Mysterious Skin (2004).