Spoilers: Up to the preview for 7x19.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Belongs to FOX and Real Time Productions.
A/N: Uh, it happened again. The preview for 7x19 got stuck in my head and after burning through a rewatch of the last 3 episodes, suddenly, this came out. Why do all my fics get written at like 1:30am? Anyway it'll probably get jossed by Monday, since this is based off of only 5 seconds of a preview clip, but this is my speculation on how Renee's reaction might play out. Thanks to catch22girl for the quick turn around on the beta.
She feels numb.
It’s only when someone asks a question, and she turns to the empty space to her left that she remembers she's the one in charge. They’re talking to her. She can feel all their eyes on her at once, and the reality that Larry really is gone sinks in. They’re looking at her for the answers and she hides the panic building in her voice by keeping her orders clipped and short.
Instinct kicks in and she’s already moving in autopilot, mobilizing the troops to canvas the area and find more clues, more leads. And it’s good. This she can do. It's not until they all start to regroup that she begins to feel the impact of what just happened. Time slows down again, and her mind begins to reel with loss and regret as she stares out the window into the dark night.
She thinks about how she’ll never have that conversation with Larry. After everything that’s happened today, after all the doubts and deception, after their relationship almost got razed to the ground, they were finally back on the same page and starting to build a new trust. They were finally going to talk and now she won’t ever have a chance to talk to him again, because she put it on hold.
And for what? A verbal beatdown? A chance for Jack Bauer to throw another tantrum and refuse to even consider the possibility of saving his life? Not even his daughter could convince him so what was the point? You wasted your last real conversation with Larry for nothing.
No, she shakes her head. That’s not fair. She can’t blame a dying man for wanting to die on his terms. Of all people, Jack has earned that right.
It’s just that the image of Larry’s body, his vacant eyes and blood on his face, has been burned indelibly into her brain and her heart is twisting in pain and frustration. He didn’t deserve to die like this.
And the more she thinks about it, the faster the anger surges up and courses through her, right down to the balls of her fists. She’s angry at herself. For doubting Larry, for taking him for granted, for not trusting him, for all the missed connections, for wasting time. She’s angry at Jack. Who has known enough loss and death to know exactly how precious the gift of life is, and still he’s just throwing it away, sealing his fate, even though he knows how much it’s going to hurt his daughter.
And she’s angry because at the end of the day, no matter how she does the math, she’s going to have to carry this load by herself, because Larry’s dead and Jack is dying, and she’ll be all alone to pick up the pieces of the stupid, hellish day.
It’s just so fucking unfair.
Jack's voice is quiet but it's enough to break her from her reverie.
“It’s all right to be feeling what you’re feeling.”
She looks at him with his soft eyes, filled with concern, and something in her snaps. She knows he means well, but the gentleness of his voice triggers an irrational jolt of annoyance instead. She doesn’t need his kindness.
“Don’t tell me how to feel,” she says, unable to keep the edge out of her voice. Just help me make them pay.
She locks eyes with him until he nods his head. She turns back to the starless sky, and she feels her anger burn away into a hardened sense of determination.
I’m going to make this right, Larry.
She isn’t numb anymore.