Characters: Jack, Renee
Word count: Around 1200.
Summary: One possible version of Jack’s thoughts picking up at the end of 8x17.
Warnings: Language. Spoilers for everything through 8x17. Angst -- to say the least.
Disclaimer: They’re so not mine. If that’s not clear now, it never will be.
A/N: Under the cut.
A/N: I keep scrounging for words that elude me. The show didn’t do Renee justice. Neither does this. But I tried. The short version? I loved Renee Walker more than I’ve ever loved a TV character besides Jack, and maybe just as much. It turns out I can’t talk about her in my journal.
It’s like this: I realize she’s a fake person. But I loved her. She’s dead. I miss her. The end.
sardonicynic -- Damn those adverbs! lowriseflare, thank you for reading this on your phone and helping to convince me I’m not Lifetiming it. The ‘no words’ part extends to adrenalin211, who betaed this in spite of it all. Thank you for putting yourself through it again for me.
At first, he doesn’t move.
He leaves his forehead against hers and lets his body shake. Tears slide off his face onto her skin. With his eyes crushed shut, it’s almost possible to imagine . . .
The PA system crackles. Code Blue. Someplace in the hospital, there’s still a decision left to be made. Still a possibility that-
He breathes in. She smells like blood.
Underneath (stronger), there’s the scent of her skin. It doesn’t smell like anything except her.
The tears stop. In their place settles a cold, anesthetizing fog.
He knows it won’t last.
For now he prefers it.
He stands, looking down on Renee.
She’s so still.
There’s no one to call. She said it herself. I don’t have anyone.
He proved her right.
A hysterical choked laugh almost bubbles up in him when he realizes how grateful he is that Larry’s not here to see this. The man would kick his ass, and Jack would let him.
Jack went to his first funeral when he was seven or eight. A distant relative – great aunt or something. His father’s stiff posture while they moved toward the casket. Starchy shirt, scratchy collar, constricting tie. He remembers peering curiously into the box. He’d never seen a dead person before. Around him, murmurs from the grownups.
Isn’t she beautiful?
She looks just like she’s sleeping.
She looks so peaceful.
He’d remained silent, moving along with the crowd, but he didn’t understand it then and doesn’t now.
Renee doesn’t look peaceful.
She looks dead.
Her blood is everywhere, staining his palms and fingers, red contrast to his white shirt.
He’ll wash his hands, over and over. Shower. Scrub the skin on his chest until it’s chafed and broken. Change his clothes.
It won’t make any difference. Her blood will remain -- warm, red, sticky. Invisible to anyone else.
Visible to him.
He closes his hand, squeezes hard. He opens it and touches the smooth skin of her shoulder, fingers wrapping over bone.
Her skin is already beginning to cool.
Half an hour ago the same shoulder had been so, so hot under his fingers.
An orderly walks into the room, head turned, talking over her shoulder. “I’ll grab this one. They don’t need it in here.”
She turns. Her eyes meet Jack’s and she halts. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize-” He stares at her. Through her. She might as well not be there. She mumbles, “Please take your time. I’ll make sure no one else comes in until you’re-”
She doesn’t know the word. Neither does he. Thank god she settles on “finished” and leaves.
He can still taste her, warm in his mouth, but that’s fading, too.
Renee’s death is fresh, raw in a way that mangles the coherence of verb tenses. Past is correct, but she’s still present.
In the back of his mind, a plan forms, solidifying and taking shape with each passing second. He’ll execute it, every detail.
But experience has taught him that he can pause for however the fuck long it takes to begin the goodbye he’ll keep perfecting for the rest of his life.
Hand still on her shoulder, he studies her face, mapping and memorizing for the last time, as he considers what he does and does not know.
He knows that when he first saw her today, when she pushed herself out of her chair at CTU and gave him a tired, conflicted smile, her walk was different from the day he met her.
Less swagger, more exhaustion, self-doubt disguised as caged fury.
He knows she’s brave. Not fearless. Brave. He sees her eyes fixed on his, her voice shaky but determined. You’re gonna have to look at me when you pull that trigger.
Turns out that give or take a few verbal nuances, she was right.
He knows she doesn’t listen to anyone (including him) when she thinks she’s right. Don’t move, he’d said, and Don’t worry about it. Let it go.
She’d always answer, push and ask questions. Jack. You need to hear this.
She died naked, wrapped in a sheet, still trying to do her job.
His throat closes. The PA system blares, pages some doctor. Jack shifts his weight, refocusing.
He knows she loses it when she’s angry (sting of her hand on his face -- twice; gun held toward him without hesitation), that she’s not afraid to pick a fight, that she doesn’t always think before she speaks, that she’s willing to push buttons to get the reaction she wants.
He knows that in one day she did what no one had managed to do in four years.
She saved him.
Literally, by flying in on a chopper and diffusing the bomb strapped to his chest (still talking, because she didn’t want him to have to wait for information about Kim).
Figuratively, by bringing Kim back to him. Her only concession to his fury, her back against a wall, was to drop her eyes for a few seconds. (He realizes now that he never once scared her, even when he tried.)
He wanted to give it back. Save her, too.
That’s why he’d stayed.
He coughs, eyes stinging.
He knows her voice changes when she talks to him. Lower, softer, blurry word bridges, edges shaved off.
He knows he’s never met someone to whom he had to explain himself less.
He knows she doesn’t smile when she’s working (but she does roll her eyes), that her gaze can track him for hours while only two words come out of her mouth, that she has a disturbing way of knowing he’s in trouble.
He knows the exact moment she chose to trust him, when he whispered in her ear and shoved her to her knees, cocking his gun behind her head.
He knows that the slide of her hair in his hands makes his heart shift, the sound she makes when she comes in his arms.
He knows that despite everything that happened that day, her smile after sex could still be surprised and shy.
He knows the last word she said was his name.
He’ll hear it -- digital stereo, no loss of sound quality -- every day until he stops breathing.
What he’ll never know comes to him in past tense, clipped finality of terminal Ds.
He doesn’t know what kind of toothpaste she liked. The stations programmed into the preset radio buttons in her car. Whether she preferred Thai, Indian, Italian, none of the above. Which side of the bed she liked to sleep on. What kind of books she read, or if she read books at all.
He doesn’t know if she wanted children or a garden, if she had any friends (no, according to her, but he’s not sure what to believe now), if she liked to run outside or on the treadmill or neither.
He doesn’t know if she was a morning or night person, what type of humor threw her into fits of unguarded laughter, whether she sneaked ice into white wine the way he does when he’s forced to drink it.
He doesn’t know her natural hair color, what horrible dress she wore to her high school prom, where she went to college or the name of her favorite professor, the class she most loathed at Quantico, the accomplishment she was most proud of.
He doesn’t know why he trusted her from the second she extended Tony’s file toward him, her mouth quirked with that impenetrable determination that she was right.
And she had been.
He doesn’t know when he fell in love with her, because it happened somewhere in the spaces between.