"I…I just want you to know that I'm not going to hold you to them." I nod, swallowing. He isn't saying anything, just giving me this long look that I'm not sure how to interpret. He starts walking toward me and I keep going: "It's been a long day and I know that we say things in the heat of the moment and I just don't want you to…"
In the next instant, his hands are cupping my face. My eyes close instinctively and he kisses me. I feel like a stunned…something that gets stunned. I can't believe this is happening, Jack kissing me, and it's by no means a passive kiss, either. His lips are so sweet and so very soft moving over mine.
Then he pushes me back against the bookshelves and I groan. These kisses aren't sweet or soft, now, but passionate and needy – lips, tongues, hands, all grasping, seeking, moving, groping. Especially mine – a fire is burning deep in my belly and although I've always liked him and almost always wanted him, now I can't get enough of him.
It's like our distance was the dam, and his first kisses were the explosions that devastated that dam.
But I'm not alone in my frantic need – he strokes his hand low and cups the back of my thigh, hoisting me up. He never breaks a stride as he carries me.
The good-little-girl voices in the back of my mind are ringing the warning bells, but the sound barely reaches me. I need him, I want him, and I can feel that he needs and wants me too. We're both grown adults, and if there's one thing Jack Bauer has taught me, it's to seize happiness whenever possible, because even fate sometimes fails to snatch back the toy she taunts us with before we can grab it.
So seize and grab and cherish, because you never know when it'll happen again.
Jack breaks off the last of a long line of sweaty, tingling, open-mouthed kisses and asks me, "You okay?"
Jack Bauer stormed and demolished the last filter my brain had, so I say exactly what comes to mind: "Mmm…perfect."
"Perfect?" he repeats hoarsely. He laughs, low and throatily. Then his thoughts shift and he says, "I am so thirsty."
"Me too," I admit, swallowing a giggle. I'm not five – I don't giggle and I definitely don't giggle after sex.
"D'you want me to get you something to drink?"
"Sure," I say. A smile spreads over my face, and I know it's of the shy, yet totally "cat got the cream" variety, and those are okay.
"'Kay…" He rubs my shoulder and gives me two more kisses before saying, "I'll be right back." He sits up. I reach over to touch his back, near his scars as he pulls on his pants. Two different trains of thought seem to hit me simultaneously – the first being that I wish I could've done something to prevent all those scars…the second being, why is he getting dressed? I'll only have to strip them off again later. That thought makes me somber; it was right along the lines of what Vladimir had said to me earlier.
Then he's walking away, pulling on his shirt. I prop myself up and smile. "Don't move," he says huskily.
He's back with two tall glasses of water just a minute later. He hands one to me and joins me on the bed. He grins and holds his glass out between us. I return his grin and clink my glass against his.
We drink. The water is iced, but it doesn't deter the warm, fuzzed tingles I feel all over. Jack leans over and kisses me again, trailing these kisses from the corner of my mouth to my ear. "Is it selfish of me to be glad that today happened, despite everything that happened?"
"No," I say. "I know how you feel." Tears prickle my eyes suddenly; I blink rapidly. "I can't tell you how much I wanted to return your calls, Jack, or how sorry I am that I didn't."
He puts his free arm around my shoulder, fingers brushing my nape. "Why didn't you?" he asked softly.
Our faces are so close they're nearly touching. I close that gap a little further; my nose nuzzles his. "I felt ashamed. Not because of what I did to Wilson," I hastily add, feeling him tense up defensively. "But because I'd tried to kill myself afterwards."
His eyes searched mine. "Sometimes we do things when it feels like we can't handle what's going on," he said. "I'm just glad you didn't die."
"Me too." I pause. "I felt even worse after I survived for a while, though. The neighbor's kid, Andy, found me."
"As you can guess, it terrified him. And he kept asking me at the hospital, 'Why'd you do it, Renee? Why'd you try to die?'" I look down. "I didn't have an answer for him. I couldn't tell him I was a monster that threatened babies or tortured cynical old men."
"Hey," he says, and he sounds angry. I look up, startled, and he moves his hand to my cheek. "You are not a monster, Renee."
I don't want to contest him, but…he's wrong. "Yeah, I am…"
"Listen –" He stops, shakes his head, and then says, "Fine. You're a monster, Renee Walker." The words sting me so badly that I almost don't catch what he says next: "We really are perfect for each other."
When I finally realize he said it, I stammer. "Wait – what? What…" Then I feel my eyes go wide. "You are not a monster, Jack Bauer!" He raises his eyebrows at me.
I grin. "Okay, you win."
He kisses me.
We wake up a few hours later, entangled, and it's noon. "You hungry?" Jack asks.
"Okay. What're you hungry for?"
I smile and roll so I'm halfway on top of him. "You," I say, kissing him.
He chuckles beneath my lips and says, "You can have me any time, but I kind of meant food. I don't have a lot here, but there are some take-out menus in the kitchen."
"Okay. Let's go get them." I sit back and give him room to sit up before I reach over and kiss him again, deeply. When we part, he's giving me this open, honest stare. Say it, a part of me urges. How can I say it, though? He'd think I'm crazy. I mean, it feels like I've known him all my life, but the strange reality is, we've only known each other for a day and a half, exactly. Who says "I love you" after only a day and a half?
Somewhere during my mental crisis, I realize he's still staring at me, and his gaze is starting to look worried.
I lick my lips and kiss him again, and again, pushing him back against the bed.
If I can't let myself tell him, I'm damn well going to show him.
It's nearly one in the afternoon by the time we collapse into each other, sweaty and out-of-breath. We're still reeling from it when my stomach growls.
Jack chuckles, again, and says, "Do you want to try that lunch again?"
"Mmm…" I say, nodding.
"We have to keep our strength up for round four, after all," he says casually, fingers trailing down my back.
"How about this?" I say. "You go order us something, and then join me in the shower." It doesn't hit me for a moment that I've just invited myself into his shower, and I feel my cheeks going pink.
But Jack doesn't seem to notice or mind. "I like the sound of that," he murmurs.
He leans over to kiss me and I intercept him, placing a chaste kiss at the corner of his mouth instead. "That's how we keep forgetting lunch, remember?"
He laughs that throaty laugh and says, "Okay. I'll be back in a minute," and rolls off the bed. He grabs his pants and pulls them on, but ignores the shirt this time as he walks away. I'm glad; he has a great body. I stretch, and make my way into the bathroom.
There isn't much in here – like, nothing. There's a bar of soap in the shower but nothing else, not so much as a towel or a razor. I open up the medicine cabinet; nothing. Then I feel guilty about going through his things – or, I would be, if there were any – and close the cabinet, moving into the shower.
The water takes a minute to warm, and then it's gushing over me, hot and firm. And I begin to wonder about the state of Jack's apartment. Boxes, nothing much in the kitchen, no towels or personal effects in the bathroom…is Jack moving?
A moment later, Jack walks in, and slides open the shower's glass door. "Hey," he says.
I smile. "Hey."
He gently kisses my shoulder. "Is Mexican okay?"
I love Mexican. "It's perfect," I say.
"I brought some towels in. Sorry about the mess around here."
Mess? There wasn't enough out to constitute a mess. "That's okay," I say. If he wants to tell me, he will. I won't push him about it.
We don't have hot shower sex like people do in movies – we just wash, firmly and carefully washing the sweat from our bodies, with lots of kissing, of course. I feel like I can't get enough of that.
The food arrives about twenty minutes later. Jack pays and tips the delivery guy, a pimpled teenager with a mohawk, who grins and tells Jack, "Man, you're lucky." Jack scowls and closes the door in his face.
I'd find his jealous protectiveness cute, but I'm too busy being embarrassed. Not because the delivery guy saw me, but because Jack paid, and it made me realize that I've got nothing on me. I feel naked – not in the slightest sense of having no clothes on, because I'm wearing a pair of Jack's sweats and one of his tees, but in the sense that…I've got no money on me, no identification, no license, no nothing. I'm trying to figure out what I did with it all when Jack says, "You okay?"
"Oh, yeah," I say, smiling to reassure him. He grins and gestures toward the kitchen. I follow him, feeling silly. Yeah, it's weird not having anything on me, but…in a way, it's also nice. Besides, I've got all I really need right here.
We eat out of the Styrofoam boxes, partly because we're both feeling too lazy to find plates, and partly because I think he packed all his clean stuff. We're eating in a comfortable silence when Jack wipes his mouth with a napkin and says, "Renee, I've got something I need to tell you."
That doesn't sound good. "Okay."
"Kim asked me to move to L.A. to be with her and Teri, and I said yes."
Oh. That explained it. "Jack, that's great!" It doesn't hit me until a second later that that means he'll be moving across the country, and I won't see him…ever. Would he even want me to visit? In these seconds that pass, my mind flies over so many things. I told him I wasn't holding him to the promises he made me, and I meant it. But…
"I want to ask you something, now," he says seriously. He reaches over and grabs my hand. "I have no right to ask you, so I'll understand if you say no, but I have to ask."
"Will you come with us?" he asks softly. "…With me?"
My mind is reeling. He wants me to go to California with him? I swallow, and pull my hand away from his. Dread is starting to show on his face, but I didn't pull my hand away to pull myself away. I lean over, holding his face in my hands. "I'll go with you," I say.
He looks stunned. "Really?"
"Jack, I'd go anywhere with you. Anywhere."
His face breaks out into truly the most gorgeous smile I've ever seen, and he kisses me fiercely.
I'm going to California with Jack Bauer, and I can't help but feel I'm making the best decision I've ever made in my life.
Writer's Note: I am a sucker for happy stories. :) I've got tentative thoughts about a sequel if anyone's interested, but I do have other stuff to do, too, so I don't know when one'll be up. All feedback appreciated. :)