title: one foot in and one foot back rating: r for language characters: jack bauer, renee walker spoilers: we'll say through the series, just to err on the side of caution. warnings: mentions of violence and allusions to torture summary: he's probably compromising the operation, but he doesn't fucking care. word count: 722 disclaimer: the characters aren't mine; the words are. a/n: gift-fic written for marinw, who requested jack and renee. prompt: what you were then I am today; look at the things I do. title taken from the same song that inspired the prompt: the avett brothers's "I and love and you." a/n 2.0: set at some nebulous point post-day seven. au as all get-out, it goes without saying. apologies to those of you who've already seen this over on my journal; I used to be so much better at remembering to cross-post!
The signal cuts out six minutes and four seconds into the interrogation.
White noise drones in Jack's eardrum; he yanks out the comm unit, and rolls the device between his thumb and forefinger. The tiny light emits a steady green, so the problem has to be on Renee's end.
He jams the receiver back in his ear, just in case.
For two minutes and nine seconds, he ignores his clammy, sweating palms, waiting for a blip in the static, for her voice — for anything, really — before he climbs out of the sedan.
A harsh whisper snakes through his brain, straight from his training and a long-ago classroom at Fort Bragg. Waiting would be smart. He should stay put, he should wait, because he's probably compromising the operation.
He is compromising the operation.
But as he strides across down the deserted block, loaded Glock tucked into the waistband of his jeans, he doesn't fucking care.
- - - - -
Jack nudges open the unlocked door. The foyer and living room are clear; the kitchen is empty. He steps forward, silent and slow, following the sound of rummaging and rustling.
"Shit, shit, shit."
He steps into the short hallway, lowering his gun a fraction.
"Come on, come on."
"In here," she says, her voice tight, echoing in the claustrophobic space.
Jack resists the urge to rub the back of his prickling neck, and enters the obsessively tidy room.
Their suspect is sprawled on his back, foam leaking from his open mouth while Renee performs frantic CPR.
"Breathe, you bastard," she says, all but grunting with every compression.
Jack tucks away his Glock, and goes to his knees on the plush, pristine carpet; he places two fingertips at Jonah Eckhert's throat, but there's no pulse to be found beneath the ashy skin.
"Renee — "
"Cyanide," she says, razors buried in the word. "I should've known."
"You couldn't've — "
"I should've," she says, and keeps working well after Jack walks out of the room to call Chloe.
- - - - - -
Hours later, the debrief is over, and Bill and Chloe have vowed to provide more intel by oh-eight hundred.
All the lights are finally off, every door and window has been triple-checked, and he's sure Renee's given the coffeemaker and the oven at least two once-overs by the time she joins him in bed.
The mattress dips beneath her weight, and she slides between the sheets, her chilly bare feet grazing his ankle.
"Hey," he says, and even though he's whispering, his voice feels too loud in the silent apartment.
She scoots closer, fitting herself against him; he wraps an arm around her and breathes in, the smell of her shampoo filling his nose.
"Don't do it," she says.
He goes still.
"Don't do what?"
"Don't say it happens to everybody."
He frowns in the shadows, but doesn't let himself tense, because he knows she'd feel it.
"But it does. You spend enough time in the field in this business, and — "
"That's not much of a comfort."
"No," he says, closing his eyes, "it's not. But that doesn't make it any less true."
Renee doesn't say anything.
As he listens to her breathing even, he thinks of Ted Cofell, and Syed Ali, of determination and desperation; he thinks of all the freedom fighters he's tried to reason with, tried to intimidate over the years — and, more often than not, failed instead of succeeded.
He expels a silent sigh, and turns his head to press a kiss to Renee's forehead.
She nuzzles deeper into his shoulder, and he decides he'll surprise her with pancakes tomorrow. A few hours later, they’ll go after Eckhert's NSA contact, ostensibly pushing the reset button on the investigation.
This new avenue could be just what they need.
Then again, maybe not — either way, they'll find out soon.
Pancakes and counter-terrorism, Jack thinks, just before he drifts off. Don't over-mix the batter, don't forget the blueberries, and never forget the extra clip in the briefcase by the desk.
His own fogged inanity nearly makes him chuckle to himself, but he doesn't want to wake Renee. He tightens his arm around her, instead, and shoves away old ghosts in the name of restful, useful sleep.