Characters: Jack Bauer, Renee Walker
Summary: Post S7 AU in which Jack and Renee spend some time being Team Awesome.
Warnings: Language, mild violence.
Disclaimer: They’re not mine. Nope. Still not. I checked.
A/N: Under the cut.
A/N: Amusingly enough, this almost 1800 word fic is a response to paladin24’s prompt for the alphabet meme. I have skills, but brevity is not among them, even in author’s notes! Whatever this is, it’s part of my attempt to work out the kinks before I embark on the AU that’s been devouring my brain for months. There are two more prompts coming (both of them almost finished) before I get to that.
For now, crazy thanks to paladin24 for reading his own prompt fic and giving me so much helpful advice on writing action, which is not my forte. Any mistakes remaining are all my own. adrenalin211 and lowriseflare? Thanks for relentlessly kicking my ass until I just wrote something.
I’m out of town for almost two days starting early tomorrow. If you comment and I don’t answer, I’m not ignoring you. I’ll be all over it the second I return!
Title is from Bruce Springsteen's amazing "Human Touch."
“I’m out.” Renee crouched down behind the shiny blue Mercedes and ejected the empty clip from her gun. A chip of metallic green paint from the car in the next space flipped off her shirt as she reloaded.
Jack fired five or six more times before he knelt beside her. “I took out one more. We’re down to six.”
“How many clips left?” She rubbed the sweat from her forehead with her free hand.
He glanced into his bag. “Four. Two each.”
“I know.” He stood up again, leveling his weapon.
A series of shots slammed through the rear windshield of the car. She felt the crunch of glass under her shoes as she straightened, aiming and firing as accurately as she could toward the illuminated flashes intermittently amplifying the muted light of the parking garage. Another man smashed backwards, hitting the granite pavement. A bullet ricocheted off the cement wall behind her, a few inches from her head, and she dropped down again.
Jack fired several more shots and joined her, leaning against the wall, breathing quickly. “Got another one. Only four now, but they’re getting too close.” He reloaded. “Chloe,” he said into the comm. “Where the hell is the tac team? You said they’d be here ten minutes ago.”
Static vibrated in Renee’s ear before she heard Chloe’s voice, words anxious and fast. “The intel was wrong, Jack. They must have scrambled the GPS. We’re working on it. Tac will be there in five minutes. Probably less.”
“This is gonna be over in two minutes,” Jack muttered.
“They know you’re pinned,” said Chloe. “They’ll be there as fast as they can.”
A tire exploded at the front of the car. “Yeah,” Jack replied, wiping his hand on his jeans.
This time when he stood, he fired only a few rounds before retreating behind the car. Bullets pierced the hood. “We need to split up,” Jack whispered. “They’ll be on us within a minute.”
“What? There are four of them. They will drop you before you get fifty feet.”
Jack looked at her, his jaw set. “We don’t have time to fight.” He pulled his last clip from the bag.
“Jack, goddammit! You can’t-“
He jerked his head toward the row of cars to their left. “You can cover me long enough for me to find an open door. I’ll hot-wire one of those SUVs.”
“What if there isn’t-”
”Start firing. Now.”
On the off chance they lived through this, she planned to kill him herself later, but she didn’t have time to dwell on that. She inhaled and began to fire. She felt Jack touch her shoulder, saw him running, growing smaller in her peripheral vision. She needed to lay down enough cover to give him a chance, so she blew through the remainder of her clip quickly. She couldn’t watch Jack’s progress, but she could hear him firing, and after a moment of confusion that gave her an opportunity to reload, three of the men followed Jack, while one turned directly toward her, his automatic spraying bullets that made a siren-like whistle as they torpedoed past her head and sent tiny chunks of cement flying.
She ducked only for a second and popped back up, already firing. Adjusting her aim, she did what she could to screen out the repeated crack of ammunition and not to think about what might be happening to Jack. A bullet caught the edge of her hair as one of her shots dropped the man who was advancing on her.
Without thinking, she walked into the open, firing two more shots into his chest. She glanced up to see the other three men with their backs to her, running toward what she had to assume was the car Jack was now using for cover. She could hear the short, explosive bursts from the automatic weapons, but she couldn’t hear the distinctive sound of Jack’s HK returning fire.
She holstered her Glock and reached for the dead man’s automatic. Kicking off her shoes so that she could run noiselessly, ignoring the occasional slice she felt when a shard of shattered glass sliced her foot, she closed the gap between her and the last three men by about ten yards.
Time went sideways or upside-down. She wasn’t sure. She depressed the trigger, moving the gun left to right. Instinct made her want to squeeze and not let go, but training won and she fired in evenly spaced bursts. She heard Jack screaming (a wash of relief even through the terror and adrenaline), maybe yelling her name, but his words vanished in the cacophony of explosive cracks.
She caught two of the men in the back and they fell, bodies crumpling. The third man pivoted, firing before he even aimed his weapon. She kept her finger on the trigger of the unfamiliar gun as she noticed three things at once. Jack, hands empty, running full out toward the man whose gun was now spraying bullets in her direction. The phosphorescent pops of light, miniature stars flying at her. A black SUV, skidding into view behind Jack.
She felt a crushing double-slam, volcanic pain rushing through her torso and shoulder. The impact threw her backwards. The ceiling spiraled in her vision. Something smashed against the back of her head. The air was grey and fuzzy for a few seconds, then soft and dark.
She heard beeping, loud and insistent, and the inescapable light sent piercing spikes of pain through her temples even through her closed eyelids. She didn’t open them. Beyond the rhythmic, irritating beeping, she heard the back and forth cadence of two distinct voices, rising and falling.
“Nothing went through. There’s a hairline crack in one of her ribs and she has a mild concussion.” Renee detected the swish of papers, click and scratch of a pen.
“She’s been unconscious for over an hour.” Jack’s voice cracked in unpredictable places. He sounded so tired. “That doesn’t concern you?”
“I expect she’ll regain consciousness anytime. CT scan is normal.” The pen clicked again. “We’ll keep her overnight.”
She inhaled to fight the nausea she felt swirling through her midsection and swallowed twice, hoping to find her voice functional. “Jack, it’s okay. I’m awake.”
A few taps of his boots echoed off the linoleum, and then his voice was closer than the obnoxious beeping. “Hey,” he said. His fingers closed over her forearm, rough and warm. “How do you feel?”
“Shitty.” She tried to smile. “Could you dim the lights?”
“The switch is over here.” The other voice drifted from across the room. “I’ll send Dr. Patterson in now that you’re awake, Ms. Walker. You need anything before I let her know?”
“No, thank you. I’m fine.” The assault of light receded and after giving her pupils a second to adjust, Renee opened her eyes. Jack stood by the bed, his face smudged with what looked like a cocktail of blood and dirt with a twist of Betadine. Underneath, his skin was plaster white, accentuated by the black Kevlar vest he was still wearing.
He reached for a chair with his free hand, the other still tight on her arm. Sinking into the seat, he leaned against the edge of her bed and said quietly, “Are you really okay? Because if you are, then you can tell me what the hell that was back there.”
A throbbing pulse traveled up the base of her neck into her temples. “There were three of them, Jack. I didn’t know where you were.”
“So you walked out with no cover and hoped for the best?” His jaw was tight, and she could see the muscles in his neck moving under the grime on his skin.
“Basically, yeah.” She slipped her hand from under the scratchy hospital sheet and laid it over his, rubbing her thumb over a cracked knuckle. “But you’re talking as if I thought about it. I didn’t.”
“You think they have cable here?” she asked, tilting her head to scan the bedside table for a remote.
“This is a stupid fight, Jack.”
“You know what I mean.”
The room went quiet, save the relentless monotone beep from the machine Renee now realized was stationed beside her bed, taking her vitals at five-minute intervals. She watched the red blink of the pulse rate monitor and felt Jack’s knuckle under her thumb. Maybe she should buy him some of that moisturizing stuff Chloe had recommended at lunch the other day.
Jack reached for the remote. “They probably have HBO. Maybe that vampire show you were pretending not to watch last week is on.” He concentrated on the small grey buttons, but his neck had relaxed and Renee could see the shadow of the smile he was trying to master.
“I told you! I was surfing and I fell asleep.”
“Right.” He handed her the remote. “See if there’s anything you feel like watching. I’m gonna go find someone who can get me a cot.”
“What? Go home! Those cots are uncomfortable and you don’t need to. . .” she trailed off. He was watching her, eyes quiet.
“Okay,” she said.
The TV flickered, splashing greenish-blue light across the walls and sheets. Renee tried to focus, but the medicine they’d given her to take the edge off the cracked rib was starting to kick in and the bed felt as if it were filled with a million miniature magnets.
She turned her head, squinting to make out the fuzzy silhouette of Jack on his cot. He was stretched out, hands behind his head, looking toward the ceiling. (She would have thought ‘at,’ but she couldn’t guess what pictures comprised the current slide show in his head.) He still hadn’t changed his clothes.
“You did the same thing,” she mumbled, her consonants already sloppy from the drugs. She struggled not to blink; each time she closed her eyes it was harder to open them again.
He rolled to his side, eyes meeting hers. “I know.”
Within seconds, the atmosphere converted to a swirly grayscale. She closed her eyes against the vertigo.
“I’ll do it next time, too.” Jack’s voice floated and lingered, crispy-edged leaves that catch the wind and won’t land.
“So will I.”