Characters: Jack Bauer, Renee Walker
Summary: Still, it would have been nice if he kissed her someplace besides her forehead, or slid the palm of his hand down her arm (the way he had that morning, when she’d stretched out on top of him, moving without thought, unaware of what a privilege it was to be able to rub her body against his just because it felt so damn good).
Warnings: Language, NC-17 sex, vague spoilers for S8 (though this is AU from the end of 8x17).
Disclaimer: They’re not mine. If they were . . . well everyone has that speech memorized.
A/N: Under the cut.
A/N: This started out as an entry for Porn Battle X as a response to the following prompts: tempted, healing, muscle, desire, wounded, haven. It’s supposed to be PWP, but apparently I fail at not writing intros.
Thanks to adrenalin211 for putting up with my relentless inexcusable bitchiness and insisting I could do this. This one’s for you, especially the you-know-what part:-P More thanks to lowriseflare, for kicking my ass back onto the ball field and betaing this mofo before coffee. poeelektra and century_fox, you guys are just . . . nothing but enthusiasm. *squishes* Finally, I have to thank paladin24 for constant email support when I was all “ZOMG I can’t write (fill in blank)!!!” The Unholy Trinity is two-thirds complete.
Title is from Rickie Lee Jones' amazing song.
It was almost midnight when she realized she had no idea what day it was. At first she thought Wednesday, but the appointment with Dr. Sheridan had been scheduled for Wednesday and that was yesterday.
Renee rearranged her body on the couch, awkward and halting, trying for what must have been the fifteenth time in the past half hour to find a position that didn’t either strain her back or stretch her sutures. She could hear Jack in the bedroom – rush of water, wooden thud of dresser drawers closing. In a minute he’d turn off the tap and come out to make coffee for tomorrow morning. She’d sit there, watching him scoop tiny brown mountains into the filter. He’d ask her if she wanted anything to drink, bring her the handful of pills she had to take every night, insist one more time that she should sleep in the bed and let him take the couch. (Why should I take the bed when I don’t sleep anyway? she’d think, but she never said the words.)
God, she was bored. Whatever grating indie rock album Jack had left on iTunes when they were playing Bananagrams had returned to the beginning, track one, and she wanted to throw something at the computer just to make it stop. Sure, she could get up and turn it off, but then she ran the risk of Jack walking out of the bedroom at that precise moment and saying, “Why didn’t you call me?”
Maybe because I’d like to do one fucking thing for myself.
She shouldn’t have been surprised that she’d given in enough to lose track of the days. For the first few weeks, the drug-induced fog had made it all run together, one day fusing into the next with no discernable transition. Jack kept all the blinds closed, so it was difficult to distinguish between day and night, dusk and dawn. Even now, far above the surface of the Oxycontin sea, every day was the same.
Pills, doctor’s appointments, every game Jack could convince her to play (he kept coming home with new ones – Scrabble and Bananagrams and Othello – not to mention the fresh white unmarked stacks of Sudoku and crossword puzzles), books that frustrated more than distracted her because she couldn’t concentrate, elaborate meals she forked politely around her plate because how the hell could she be hungry when she never moved?
Jack’s hands on her ribs and her stomach when he changed her gauze dressing.
He didn’t notice that she shivered now, even when the aftermath of his latest culinary creation (in addition to the games, he had purchased a gigantic cookbook titled How to Cook Everything, and all evidence suggested that he planned to do exactly that) had left the apartment stifling and oppressive.
They couldn’t have sex. She knew that. Still, it would have been nice if he kissed her someplace besides her forehead, or slid the palm of his hand down her arm (the way he had that morning, when she’d stretched out on top of him, moving without thought, unaware of what a privilege it was to be able to rub her body against his just because it felt so damn good) to let her know she wasn’t alone in her misery.
Instead, Jack had morphed into a sexy male version of her mother. She tried not to consider the levels of wrong in that thought, but it wasn’t far off. He hovered so much that she had begun to look forward to doctor’s appointments as a way temporarily to escape the impermeable bubble of his concern. Sometimes even that didn’t work – he’d choose to stay instead of grabbing a cab and running off to buy something else for her. He cooked her meals, washed her clothes, kept track of everything related to the three different doctors she had to see on a regular basis, and concocted some new form of ‘entertainment’ almost every day. She longed for phone calls from Kim or Teri (which came frequently, thank god), because talking to them made him forget about her for a few minutes.
He was always too close and never close enough.
She threw the Newsweek she had been attempting to read (the cover story discussed the ‘failure’ of the war in Afghanistan; she could have sworn she’d seen a similar one a few weeks before she was shot) on the coffee table and stared at her bare toes. She couldn’t even give herself a damn pedicure. Jack would probably have done that too, if she asked him. She fidgeted, uncomfortable and turned on at the same time, imagining how it might feel to have his thumb stroking over the arch of her foot. He’d touched her a lot of places that morning, but not there.
Jack walked out of the bedroom, wearing only navy boxers. (Usually it was at least jeans; she had no idea why he had chosen tonight to turn his modesty dial several notches closer to ‘off’.) He paused when he noticed the discarded magazine. “You want me to bring you one of the books I got at the library today?”
“No. I’m gonna get ready for bed in a minute.” Her voice crackled with an edge she hadn’t intended to be audible.
“Are you okay? Usually you stay up until two.” He opened the cupboard and reached up for the filters. Renee studied the flow of muscle under skin, recalling the tension of his shoulders beneath her fingertips when she squeezed.
She swallowed and looked away. “I’m fine.” She picked at a piece of fuzz on the back of the couch. “Do you always have to listen to music?”
He turned around, coffee scoop in one hand, shiny brown Starbucks bag in the other. “No,” he replied carefully. “I’ll turn it off.” He set the bag down and clicked the stop button on the computer.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t yell at you because you’re the only one here.”
He tossed the scoop toward the sink and took a few steps toward her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing! I’m bored out of my mind sitting on this goddamn couch and-” Good god. Shut the hell up before you make a gigantic ass out of yourself. And she meant to shut up. She did. But she made the mistake of raising her eyes to meet Jack’s.
His expression was the exact one he’d been wearing seconds before he kissed her that morning – the improbable combination of unshakable focus, confusion, and concern, all mixed up with that other irresistible thing she didn’t have a name for.
“And I’m horny,” she blurted, looking away so fast it made her a little dizzy.
The quiet that descended into the space between them made her wish she’d shut her mouth about the music. She could hear herself breathing, the too-rapid smack of her heart in her damaged chest. Jack’s body was like a statue in her peripheral vision.
Because it hadn’t been awkward enough living for a month with a man she’d known less than two days before she moved in, but with whom she’d already had the kind of sex that makes you eat ice cubes in winter and take cold showers four times a day (which she sometimes did now, if Jack didn’t start mumbling about how she shouldn’t stand up for so long).
Jack took the three steps required to close the distance to the couch and knelt on the wood floor beside her. He reached for her face, fingers pressing the edge of her chin as he turned her toward him. “That’s why you’re so pissed off tonight?” he asked.
“Mostly,” she muttered. Her cheeks burned; she wished the light in his apartment were dimmer.
“Because that is something I can fix.” The low humming charge in his words sent her stomach spinning, the way she used to feel after she stepped off the Scrambler, only . . . not sick. She felt his hand, tentative and soft on the curve inside her knee; she looked up before she could stop herself. He was smiling, shy and uncertain, and he rubbed his thumb over her lower lip, back and forth, watching her eyes, before he leaned in and kissed her.
She opened her mouth, tasted and breathed him in all at once – mint toothpaste, scent of whatever kind of all-in-one body wash he’d bought this time, and oh god his skin. She’d replayed the memory of that morning until she thought it might wear out, but now he was here, tongue lightly touching hers, hand on the back of her neck, fingers in her hair.
She stopped thinking and closed her eyes, lifting her hands to his face so she could move his mouth against hers just like she wanted it. She was shivering again, trembling, but she kept kissing him, smiling when she drew her tongue over his lower lip and he exhaled, murmuring, “Christ, Renee.”
She was about to kiss him again but he stopped her, holding her face in his hands just firmly enough so she couldn’t move it toward his mouth. He put his lips against her ear, and she felt her hair ruffle when he spoke. “You know what I love?”
“Hmmm?” She traced the back of his arm with her fingers, exploring the rise of his tricep, too distracted by the way his muscles moved when she touched him to pay attention to his words.
“I love it when you make that noise, and you don’t even know you’re doing it.” His tongue outlined her tiny silver earring.
“Hey.” He angled her face so she had no choice but to look at him. “Will you trust me?”
“I don’t-” She sucked in air, trying to focus. “What are you talking about? Of course I trust you.”
He smiled. “Okay. Promise not to move. You can’t move, or I’ll have to stop.” He was already unknotting the tie of her pajama shorts. “Lift up a little.”
Oh holy shit. He was going to- . . . The heat washed into her face again. “Jack, listen. You don’t have to-”
“I want to,” he interrupted, quiet and serious. “Do you want me to?”
She ignored the electricity that pulsed in her cheeks. “Yes.”
“Then let me. Lift up.”
He slid her pajama shorts and underwear off so quickly she hardly had to move. She didn’t see where he threw them, because his mouth was already on the inside of her leg, his lips grazing her skin where they touched her. He slipped his index finger inside her, not even to the first knuckle, but enough to tease her while he licked some sort of pattern on her thigh, working his way upward. Every few seconds he stopped to kiss and touch one square inch of skin before he kept moving.
She pressed down against his finger and he stilled. “You’re moving,” he said, and she could hear the laughter in his voice.
“I’ll stop as long as you don’t,” she whispered. She laid her head back and shut her eyes, drawing the soft polartec of the blanket beneath them into her fists so she had something to hold.
“Deal.” She shivered. Outside and below, as if very far away, she could hear horns and traffic and wind and the throb of jet engines. Inside, everything had condensed to this: holding herself still while Jack’s lips floated over her skin.
His mouth moved upward; she could feel the scrape of his stubble and the warm slide of his tongue, closer and closer, until she thought begging might not be such a bad thing (this once). “Jack. Please just-“
He didn’t make her say it. His tongue smoothed over the exact location she’d been wanting to touch with her own fingers since he’d walked out of the bedroom, only this was so much better.
Oh-. She released the blanket and threaded her fingers into his hair. Jesus. She wanted to move, but she opened her eyes and looked at the pattern on the ceiling, fuzzy and swirling as her focus faltered. Jack accelerated the tiny circles he was drawing with his fingertip and his tongue, and she felt her thighs shaking. She was terrified he’d notice and stop, afraid that he was hurting her, but he only drew her incrementally closer, pressing the back of his tongue over her as she tightened her fingers.
There was no warning when everything exploded and went white. She bit into her lip, hazily aware that the walls were thin and she should try not to make noise, but she forgot all about not moving and arched upward. Her eyes were closed and she saw the dancing shapes of the ceiling lights imprinted on her eyelids, felt Jack’s hands lock on her hips and hold them down, gentle but unrelenting.
He anticipated what she needed, even now.
Jack rested his head on her leg for a minute or two – she wasn’t sure. Time had turned into a rubber band again. Then, cautious and slow, he settled himself next to her on the couch. The look on his face – wonder, gratitude, amazement – had her embarrassingly close to tears. Her eyes stung, but she didn’t look away. She’d been wanting this since the second she woke up in the hospital, for him to stop treating her like something he could break if he moved wrong and look at her the way he had that morning.
He kissed her, and while she knew the unfamiliar taste on his tongue was her, she surprised herself by not flushing, by kissing him back, slow and relaxed.
“Better?” He slipped his hand under her shirt and let it rest on her stomach.
“You don’t even know,” she answered, grinning, and that was when she realized his body was trembling while hers had almost stopped. She blinked, wondering if anything in this universe ever made him consider himself first. Her hands yanked at the sides of his boxers before he could form a sentence of protest. “Get rid of these,” she said, and he instinctively lifted his hips enough for her to shove them out of her way.
He was hard and smooth against her skin, and he moved into her fingers the moment she touched him. She expected him to pull away, mumble something about how he hadn’t expected her to return the favor, but instead he exhaled into her neck, emitting a low, achy noise that felt like fireworks in the middle of her spine.
“Shit,” he whispered (arm braced against the couch), trying to stop himself from moving, but still pushing slightly into her hand, his body thrumming. “That feels . . . so good,” he said, somewhere between a gasp and a laugh. “But you’re not supposed to move more than you need to, and we already bent the rules tonight.”
She smiled, wicked. “I’ll only move a little. You do the rest.” She slid her hand lightly up and down, rubbing her thumb where it seemed to make him craziest. “I know you don’t want me to stop,” she whispered. “And I don’t want to.”
Jack was inhaling short, choppy breaths now, his face hot. “I don’t want you to stop,” he managed, already taking firmer, faster strokes into her fingers. “But I’m scared I’ll hurt you.” He watched as he moved into her palm, as she closed her fingers around him again.
“You won’t. I’m barely moving. Use my hand.” She kissed his hair, her other hand touching the tense muscles of his shoulders. “God, Jack. Please let me do this for you.”
He stopped talking.
Renee tightened her hand and Jack gasped, a soft ohh rumbling in his throat as his hips accelerated their pace.
“I’m gonna-” He had to breathe between words now. “You’re sure you don’t care if-“
“Shut up,” she said softly, moving her hand in encouragement. He pushed against her (hard now) four more times and came (hum in his throat and Oh fuck, Renee), warm and wet on her fingers and her leg. She didn’t let go, loving the sensation of release as his body contracted and relaxed, giving in for once. While he rejoined reality, she tried to create an every-sense version of a high-res photo – his heart racing smack up against the place where hers had stopped that morning, his sweat on her skin, how the lamp turned his body and hair the same color of gold, the way he tucked his hand under her knee and held on, as if she might disappear if he let go. How the first thing he said when he could breathe was, “Did that hurt?”
“No,” she replied. “Not at all.”
He pushed himself up and studied her face. He must have been satisfied because he smiled (still a little shy), kissed her (lingering to touch his mouth to hers, over and over, like he couldn’t figure out how to stop), and said, “Let me get you a towel. I’ll be right back.”
He walked toward the bedroom without even grabbing his boxers.
Renee woke up sweaty and thirsty, her shoulder jammed into the corner of the couch at an unnatural angle. Bluish light flickered in the dark room. Jack remained squashed against her, watching what appeared to be an Animal Planet show from the ‘death at the watering hole’ genre. The green lines on the DVR clock read 3:12.
“Aren’t you going to bed?” She couldn’t stop the yawn that stretched the last syllable.
Jack sat up and grabbed the remote, clicking off the TV. “Yeah. I’m sorry. I wasn’t ready to . . . “ He trailed off, scrutinizing the remote in his hand. “Do you need anything before I go? A glass of water? I bought some lime seltzer while you were at the doctor yesterday. I know you like the raspberry better, but-”
“Jack,” she interrupted.
“I don’t like sleeping alone either. I hate it.”
He lifted her right hand, turning it over and running his thumb over the raised white line of her scar. “I know. But I can’t-” His voice had dropped to a strained whisper. “Hurt you.”
“You won’t.” She sighed, rubbing her itchy eyes. “Can we try? One night – see what happens?” She pulled his hand into her lap, twisting her fingers with his. “For me?”
“That’s not fair.” He grinned, leaning in to kiss the edge of her mouth, push her hair away from her neck. It felt so good to have his hands on her again.
“I know.” She smirked. “But it works every time.” She could see him thinking, how close he was to giving in. “One night.”
He stood up and held out his hands, pulling her up when she took them. “Okay,” he acquiesced. “But if anything hurts-”
“I’ll make you sleep on the couch,” she said, kissing his shoulder. “Where did you put the seltzer?”
“Let me get-” He stopped himself. “On top of the fridge.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a sec.”
He released her hands and walked towards the bedroom, pausing halfway there. “Would you pour me some, too?”
“Sure.” She walked to the fridge and reached for the ivory and green bottle (transient flash of pain). She remembered him clutching her in the taxi – blood, desperation, terror. Love.
We’re gonna make it. I promise you.
She poured two glasses full of seltzer and stuck the bottle in the fridge, kicking it shut. Lifting the cups, she padded down the hallway. She pictured Jack waiting for her, restlessly rearranging the sheets and settling his pillow as far to his side of the bed as possible without allowing it to fall off.
We did. We are.