Rating: AC for sexy!times
Characters: Jack Bauer/Renee Walker
Summary: He should have known this all along because he remembers that raw solitude feels something like living while decaying, remembers how someone’s presence doesn’t feel real until it’s physical, like you can’t even believe it’s not a mirage until there’s tangible proof in your arms.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. And since I don’t like the situation they were left in by the people to whom they DO belong, it is necessary to write them sexing for the porn battle! Naturally.
Author’s notes: Under the cut
Author’s notes: I wrote this for Porn Battle X with regard to any of the following prompts : cold, grounded, healing, running, scars, weary, muscle, touching, wounded, whispers, breaths.
Thanks to leigh57 for the porny writing inspiration, idea boosting, betaing, and all together awesomeness. Totally dedicated to you, because. And lowriseflare for the beta, being genuinely concerned about the comfortableness of Jack’s junk, and the long ago prompt: “Please, just let me.” Thank you, poeelektra and century_fox for the smut support and unending enthusiasm. Also, to paladin24 for the email porn support group and for dubbing the term “Unholy Trinity”. So… Dear Leigh and Paladin: Now you go.
The title is thanks to Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and their cool lyrics.
All that’s left of their campfire is the lingering smell of hickory smoke and the fading red burn of the embers. When the wind blows, cold, they crackle into the night, resembling the fireflies she used to catch inside those big Jiffy jars when she was a little kid. She’d poke holes into the red lid with her father’s pocket knife and revel in the flicker.
Renee shivers, checks her watch. It’s seven o’clock and the sun is pretty much down, disappearing between mountain peaks and the burnt orange of the maple leaves where they’d pitched their tent. There are no remnants of summer in the Adirondack air and October feels more like December back home, wherever home is now. She pulls her sweater more tightly around her torso, crossing her arms at her waist where the pain still sometimes throbs out in memory, like aftershocks.
They’d been sitting by this fire for nearly an hour now, Cliff Bars and canned green beans for dinner, but she feels like she’s only now catching her breath.
“If we can keep up this pace,” Jack says, surveying the surrounding mountains, taking advantage of the last sliver of unset sun, “We can probably cross into Canada in a couple of days.”
He hands her his canteen and she takes a few sips. She doesn’t know where the hell he got all this gear, but he seems to have everything taken care of, like he’s hoped all along it’d be true, and that she’d go with him.
Of course she would. That wasn’t even a question.
This trek, though, uphill and rocky, has been more demanding on her body than the worst days of physical therapy, right after it happened. Only he’s here now and this somehow keeps her moving when she’d otherwise quit.
She hands him back the jug, slowly swallowing, and moves her thumb to her shoulder to rub at a knot. “I think next time we decide to run from the law,” she says, matter-of-factly, trying to lighten the mood, “We should rent mountain bikes.” She tries to laugh, acknowledging the genius absurdity of this whole thing. “And make sure some of it’s downhill.”
Jack looks like he doesn’t know whether to smile or cry, and she regrets saying it almost immediately. Reference to her physical pain seems to hurt him like lancing.
He opens his mouth to say something but the breeze picks up and he studies the sky instead. The remaining leaves on the trees around them start to tremble like the premonition of something bad. She smells the pine of the forest and breathes in the air.
She wants him to touch her. That’s really the problem she’s having. He hasn’t since he found her yesterday-- hands gently everywhere like he had to make sure she was whole, I thought you’d…, his mouth on her cheeks, wet, her body shaking— a moment too transient. Now it’s like Mission Impossible to cross the border, and Jack has an intrinsic, animal kind of focus. He’s always watching, alert to every noise and change in wind direction, and all she wants is to stop for a minute and hold him. To lie; tell him they’ll be safe soon, that she’s sure of this.
Thunder snaps her into focus and the rain comes hard and fast right after. The heavy drops douse the last of the fire; smoke and ashes drift grey into the night. Jack’s taking her hand and guiding her into the tent with the flashlight. The ground is slippery and they walk gingerly over jutting tree roots and cold earth.
His hand feels good there, like where she wishes it’d been for all these months, and she squeezes tightly. Out of the corner of her eye she maybe she sees him smile.
He hears the steady splatter of water against the tarp that’s protecting their small tent.
Renee is changing into sweats so Jack’s got his back to her and is nervously squeezing his hands together, a habit he’d picked up…he doesn’t know when. He’s not sure where to look, really, because the angle of the flashlight emits a shadow of her outline on the wall he’s facing. He swallows.
He wants to touch her so badly. Doesn’t know if he should, whether or not she’d welcome that, after all these months.
She’s delicate. He noticed this yesterday when he selfishly had his hands all over her, needing to see her flesh, the scar, needing to touch it. Delicate in the looseness of her clothes and the paleness of her face, as though life hasn’t been worth the sustainment of physical strength. Will to live.
He knows the feeling.
Laying down all the blankets he could manage to bring, he hears the slow chatter of Renee’s teeth, again, and, like every other minute in the day, he wants to say a million things to her: God, I’m sorry it’s so cold. That we have to hike this far; I know you’re tired. I’m sorry they’re looking for me. You’re sure this is what you want? But Jack settles on silence because Renee is decisive and he imagines, without thinking too hard, her response to most of his concerns.
She touches his shoulder and he startles a bit, not used to it, and slides around to face her. She’s wearing a hoodie and flannel pants; it’s about forty degrees outside and, had he known that’s all she could fit in her pack, he’d have managed to stuff another sweatshirt into his. Jesus. She’s rubbing her hands up and down her arms. Jack notices how small she seems inside her clothes, her hair a little wet from the rain.
She looks at the blankets he’s prepared and smiles. “If only I’d remembered my space heater,” she says, “we’d be a lot cozier. “ She’s putting on some extra socks. Her feet must be ice cold.
“I’m sorry,” Jack says, because he can’t help it. “I’ll build another fire when the rain stops. Maybe find some dry wood under the brush.”
“I shouldn’t build it too high. We don’t know when Witness Protection will notice you’re gone. There’re gonna be drones over these mountains the second someone puts two and two together.”
“Jack,” she says more loudly, and her hand is on his face now. He feels his eyes start to water, things coming to the surface. Dammit, he doesn’t know how he could’ve dragged her into this with him.
She doesn’t say anything for a while, looking down at the blankets instead, biting her lip. The rain smacks down.
She moves her hand lower and lays it on his, and when she still hasn’t said anything, he whispers, “I’ll go find some more logs as soon as—”
“Actually,” she starts, looking at him through the dim glow of the flashlight, her body visibly shivering, “Could you just hold me?”
He meets her eyes, melting, and he should have known this all along because he remembers that raw solitude feels something like living while decaying, remembers how someone’s presence doesn’t feel real until it’s physical, like you can’t even believe it’s not a mirage until there’s tangible proof in your arms.
He’d just gotten so used to this.
“Yeah?” he asks, because it’s all he wanted her to say all day. She nods and looks suddenly shy, but she’s smiling at him and he imagines he looks as relieved as she does shy. “C’mere.”
They climb under the blankets and wiggle around until she’s got her back to his chest. The ground is hard and probably uncomfortable for her, but he layers the blankets as best he can, curling around her from the back, cocooning her between the fleece and the heat of his body. She feels so good there, so right, and he moves the palm of his hand up her arm.
“I can’t lose you now,” she says. Her voice breaks. He kisses her cheek.
All he can think in response is, “I know,” and for a fleeting second, it feels less selfish that he took her with him.
“Jack, you don’t have to,” she says as his hands find the kink in her right shoulder and his fingers begin to rub in circular motions.
“Please, just let me,” he whispers. She feels his breath on her neck. Being this close to him is like slowly crossing off the list of things they’d gotten wrong today.
She lets him; it feels nice.
“They come check on me every week or so,” she says, after they lay there a while. She doesn’t really want to talk about this, but they’ve hardly talked about anything and she feels like there’s so much and nothing at all to say. “They’ll notice in a few days.”
“Okay,” he says, like he’s trying to absorb it all, and the way he’s touching her is like that, too, like he’ll never get to again, and with the way everything happened the last time she can’t really blame him.
Jack turned off the flashlight a few minutes ago to conserve battery power and it’s just plain dark inside the tent, but her eyes have adjusted and she can make out shadows. She has an instinctual understanding of where every part of his body is, and the knowledge feels private to her. Intimate.
“Are you comfortable?” he asks, and she thinks it might be the dumbest question she’s ever heard, almost wants to laugh, but she doesn’t. He really has no idea how much this feels better than an eight hour sleep on a memory foam mattress, no question.
She turns around in his arms, meaning to show him. It’s like he’s surprised at first, but she sees his silhouette, a grin at the edges. He adjusts to her there, arm around her back while she situates her legs between his.
Their faces are maybe an inch apart and his breathing picks up a little bit, warm on her face. She can hear her heart thump inside her chest. “Yes,” she says. Their noses touch in the dark. “I’m more than comfortable.”
His hand reaches up to brush through her hair.
“I missed you,” he says into her mouth as she finds his lips, shadows colliding, and the words travel through her like the warmest kind of secret.
His lips part (the urging of her tongue), and he exhales, rough into her mouth, fingers absently running along her cheeks, her jaw-line.
His hands finally start moving everywhere again, faster than yesterday, and she’s hit with the memory of before she was shot. How being with him felt something like hope, and how every time they broke free to breathe he was smiling like he couldn’t believe his luck, like she was so important, and there was no possible way to take in enough of him.
Then having it ripped away, waking up alive and wishing she weren’t.
“Oh, god,” she says. His tongue is hot on her neck, glide and kiss, and his fingers slide under her sweatshirt and across the skin of her back.
She runs a knee up the inseam of his jeans, then gently across his middle and he stops kissing her for a second, his breathing fractured, erratic now.
“I thought I’d never…” he starts, and he’s suddenly moving against her like desperation. Her fingers travel lower to unzip the denim, mapping out the terrain of his body, the angles and bends and gathering of muscle that she could only before access in memory. But this.
“Jack,” she whispers, arching into him. She can’t see a thing but everything she feels is acute and dizzying, and it’s frenzied touching everywhere, fast. She’s trying to pull down his pants but it’s difficult because his lips don’t willingly leave hers for more than a couple seconds. “I want…”
“Tell me,” he manages, warm in her ear.
“I want…” Renee rolls onto her back, runs her hand down his chest, catching her breath. “I want to get your jeans off,” she says, laughing a little.
She feels his lips turn upwards as he kisses her a few more times before sitting up.
She hears the shuffle of clothing under the blankets. Before she can process she’s reaching out into the darkness to feel what’s exposed.
The noise he makes (low exhale) when she runs her hands over his boxer briefs is enough to make her pulse come alive everywhere. She’s getting wet; she can feel it.
She rubs her hand gently over him. He’s hard. Ready. “These, too,” she says as she grabs at the elastic of his boxers and moves them down. He breathes so unevenly, still fixated by her lips, hands roaming under fabric, and she’s sorry if he wants to go slower, but she just can’t stand it and they can do slow and steady later, anything he wants, but not now.
She lifts her lower body up so he can remove her pants.
“You’re not too cold?” She hears him through the rapidity of exhalation, but he’s peeling them off and touching her there and Oh, God this is just…
“I’m fine,” she manages, but he’s above her and she’s got a hold of him, guiding him in and he’s releasing low, coarse sounds that could send her over the edge now if she’s not careful. She arches her back, then kisses him, hard, like the downpour they’re in.
He’s inside of her now. It feels like free-falling in a dream and awakening mid-air, like scary relief and adrenaline. She doesn’t move for a moment so he takes advantage of the second to fumble around for the flashlight, wanting to see her face, commit this to memory.
“That’s better,” she says, as the glow illuminates the tent. She reaches her hand up to touch his face.
They both begin to move.
Jack holds on for a while, all sliding and steady glide, but she’s so goddamn beautiful and she starts to angle her hips and make this soft hum when they move at just the right pace, breaths staggering, biting her lip. He’s pulsing inside of her.
“Like that?” he says, not stopping for a second.
She’s pushing further into him as he moves, keeping the same rhythm. “Right there.”
She starts moving faster and her hands go to his chest and her eyes shut and, holy shit, she’s going to come and he can watch her. He keeps movement, harmonizing with her body, the flutter of her eyelids. And he studies, transfixed, one hand sliding into her hair as she gasps out, just watching her because he remembers the quiet wonder of how stunning this is.
“Jack,” she says, as she’s coming down and he’s got his tongue on the swell of her collarbone. “Tell me how.”
And she has no idea how close he is, that he just wanted to watch her, undistracted, but she’s pushing into him faster. His head arches back and he’s letting go within her, breathing hard and jagged, clutching blankets in his hand as he rides it out. She’s got her hands gripped around his arms as his body contracts, whispering that it’s okay.
When it’s over and they’re kissing, his hand resting on the curve of her waist, he can’t stop thinking about the notion of second chances. Now more than ever, the desire to keep her safe runs desperately through him, some kind of stampede of instinct. He wants to ask her if she’s alright, but the smile on her face is something he’s seen only once before, and he thinks about how that conversation goes.
The rain’s gotten quieter, something she didn’t really notice until just now. He’s playing with the string of her hoodie and talking to her every now and then between kisses.
“Promise me something,” she says.
“I promise,” he says immediately, an edge of laughter about him. The mood is lighter now, like they strapped pain to a pause button. “What?” he asks, more seriously.
She runs her hand up Jack’s arm. “That when we get to Canada, we don’t go anywhere, on any planes or boats, or whatever, without each other.”
“Renee, that might not—”
He’s tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
“If they find you with me—”
“I know,” she interrupts, because just in a matter of seconds he looks as though he’s about to break, as though he has to take responsibility for the whole world being bad.
She moves in to kiss him once, smiles at the way his lips always linger for a second and third.
“If you’re alone, though” he continues, clearing his throat, “They could only put you back in Witness Protection.”
“I’m not…” she starts. “I can’t go back to that, Jack. There’s nothing there.”
“Okay,” he says, like he knows all too well, and she’s sure that he does, because that’s the thing about them. She uses his shoulder to draw herself closer; his lips land on her temple. “Where do you want to go?” There’s hope, even some mischief in his tone; it’s a side of him she’s never seen. “We can go anywhere. Travel the world.”
Renee laughs and Jack’s expression looks as though that’s all he was trying for. “We’ll have to travel the world,” she notes.
Jack looks thoughtful, as though she’s brought up something he hasn’t been considering every second of every minute since he found her. “It sounds better when it’s presented as an option.”
She sees him smirk as she drags her lips across his. “It already sounded better.”
“We should sleep now,” he whispers, later, when it’s quieted down and his eyes are getting heavy.
“I am asleep,” Renee mumbles. She turns to kiss him goodnight.
“You still cold?” He pulls the blanket higher over them as she situates herself, and drapes it across her shoulders.
“I’m good now,” she says through a yawn, reaching for his hand in the shadows.
Jack stays awake until her breathing evens out, listening for a while. The steady sound mixes with the haphazard drip of water from the trees above them, falling onto their tent after the storm.
The longer he listens the more he wishes sleep weren’t necessary, but he kisses her forehead, wraps an arm around her, and closes his eyes until morning.