Broken

She wore long sleeves under a blazer, though it was warm outside in the New York sun. They hid the pristine bandages along her wrists, and the silvery threads of new scar tissue drawn vertically up each arm. White gauze peeked out from under one sleeve as Renee Walker knelt down on the burgundy padded kneeler, and cast her eyes up to the enormous wooden crucifix, before looking down once more, ashamed.

The things I have done, the things I have tried to do…there cannot be forgiveness for this.

Renee ran her hand over her face. The veins stood out through her paper-thin skin and her face was haggard, aged by the past and by the present. In some back room of the Cathedral, religious brothers chanted a prayer in Latin or Greek, Renee didn't know which; a steady cadence of rising and falling voices; a song in its simplest, a lament to God. Renee's heart seemed to follow the music, aching as it rose and fell with the voices.

"Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Christé, eléison; Christé, eléison; Christé, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison ."

So absorbed she was, that she didn't even notice the other person in the church with her until the girl fell onto her knees next to Renee. Startled and filled with adrenaline, Renee leapt back, hand flying to where her gun was normally kept. The girl said nothing, merely looked at Renee. Renee's cheeks flushed with shame and she dropped her head, slowly got back onto her knees on the kneeler.

"Heli, heli, lama sabachthani?" The girl whispered, echoing the words of Jesus. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Renee kept her head bowed, and the girl whispered softly,

"He has not forsaken you, Renee." And Renee's head flew up, she looked over at the girl, fear in her eyes. Who had sent this girl? Who was after her now? But the girl smiled, shook her head. She pulled a picture of Renee out of her pocket; it was creased and faded. This was when Renee noticed that the girl was wearing the black habit of a sister and a white veil, that wooden rosary beads clinked at her waist, hanging from her woolen belt.

The sister sat, and indicated that Renee was welcome to do also. She did, and looked at the sister, waiting for the answers she needed.

"Your picture and your name were given to me by a woman on the street. She asked me to pray for you."

Christina. Of course. The woman who had worked alongside her in the FBI, the one who had called her house after she quit, who sent flowers to the hospital after the first suicide attempt, who probably still carried a rosary as part of her FBI gear and wouldn't go out without it, who had given her a Saint Michael the Archangel medal—patron saint of the police—on the first day they met. Who else would find a novice nun and ask her to pray for Renee?

"You can't possibly know the things I've done, the things I've tried to do—would have done if they hadn't stopped me."

"And I suppose I can't possibly understand the self-loathing you feel for yourself, how you can't look at yourself in the mirror, can't look at others for fear of seeing the same loathing you have for yourself, or worse, pity. And I can't understand that when you feel this much pain and hatred all you want to do is feel something—pain, sorrow, anything. Or peace. Peace that comes with never having to wake up."

Renee stared at the novice, and in her eyes there was no hatred, was no pity, was no judgment.

"I suppose think you can do it by yourself as well, that you don't need anyone else."

In the background, the monk's chanting rose and fell.

"Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Christé, eléison; Christé, eléison; Christé, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison; Kýrie, eléison ."

"You can't do it alone, Renee. But if you need help, if you need guidance, if you need someone who won't judge you, who will love you regardless…" she indicated the crucifix.

"I imagine that He went through a lot more pain than you did, carrying all the evil the world has ever done on his shoulders." She stood, adjusting her habit. "God Bless You." She tucked the picture back into her pocket. "And you'll stay in my prayers." The novice turned and walked away, genuflected in the aisle, and softly departed from the Cathedral. The door caught as it closed, and steady, sure, footsteps came in.

Sluggish tears tracked down her cheeks, and the salt tasted like forgiveness. A light shone in the Confessional a few yards away. The priest was in. Renee walked over slowly, opened the door, and knelt, made the sign of the cross.

"Bless me, Father. For I have sinned…"


When she left the confessional, returned to her pew, made her penance prayers, and had sat down, the same steady footsteps echoed through the Cathedral to her pew. When she looked up, Jack was sitting there, looking at her, his face unreadable.

"I came here too, yesterday." It wasn't a one-up or a challenge. A statement, a shared understanding. They sat in silence for maybe an hour, maybe more, just sitting, reflecting, praying. And Jack stood, held out his hand to her. She took it.

As he held the door open for her, the chant of the monks rose again, and Renee paused to listen.

"Beatus est is cuius delictum es venia , cuius sins es occulto."

This is the fault of plot bunnies and a fandom of 24, Renee Walker, me being Catholic, and EASTER! I apologize to my beta for not having her edit this, but I just needed to write and publish it or the plot bunnies would literally eat me alive and leave nothing left. Hope you enjoyed it and Happy Easter!!! (REVIEWS PLEASE!!!! I NEEEED THEM.)

*Notes for you non-Latin speakers…or those too lazy to use Google translator.

-The first chant (the Kyrie) was "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy" in Latin.

-The second one was a Psalm from the Bible, meaning, "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,

whose sins are covered."