Pairing: Jack Bauer/Renee Walker
First, some obligatory pretty (huge thanks to adrenalin211 for making these at the last minute):
Blurb: The fact that this is my favorite ship in all of history is a touch amusing, given that I stumbled onto it when I had absolutely, undeniably, indubitably, 100% vowed I was finished shipping, because my last shipping experience had left me so badly burned (yes, cue the irony – I know). But I flipped on the first ep of S7 24 one evening in an effort to dodge conversation with my visiting FIL, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I lived in denial for close to five episodes (remember that in real time this was only eight days, because 24 did two-day four-hour premieres). But I’m pretty sure the moment I fell beyond a shadow of a doubt was at the very end of 7x05, when Jack drags a tearful but stoic-as-hell Renee out of a van full of terrorists to what she believes will be her death. He tells her to turn around; she sticks out her chin and responds, “You’re going to have to look at me when you pull that trigger.” He spins her and says, “You trust me and I will get you through this alive.” And in that split second before she makes the choice to drop to her knees, you can see in her eyes that all along, she knew she was right about him and she’ll play it his way, no matter what.
So, stick and fork in me and so on, world without end;)
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could have some chance at brevity on this subject. Anyone who has “met” me even in passing knows that I could yap about them forever. So I decided to try it this way.
TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT JACK AND RENEE
1. From the second they meet, they trust each other, even when they shouldn’t and when it makes no sense. (Okay okay, there are a few glitches in this on Renee’s part, like the chokehold of love, but details details.)
2. They eye-track each other. Constantly. And don’t even get me started on the eye sex when they’re actually making eye contact.
3. They don’t beat around the bush, sugarcoat the situation, or bullshit each other. Ever.
4. They are always all up in each other’s grills, and these are not touchy-feely people. I could give examples (no really, so many, even in S7 and S8, WELL), but see me keepin’ it brief.
5. I can’t make it through any discussion of Jack and Renee without using an epic phrase coined by dealan311 -- The Altruism Olympics. These two compete in these Olympics like mofos, and I can’t say who wins (although I guess in canon, Renee does;). Regardless, they are unfailingly willing to sacrifice anything to save A) each other B) the mission C) the world D) all of the above.
6. There’s no “will they or won’t they.” Wow, I was so over this trope by the time I happened upon 24. On their first horrifying day together, they don’t have time to think about a relationship. The second they meet on Day 8, it’s clear within about thirty seconds that a relationship is already a done deal.
7. They are freakin’ BAMFs, alone and together. Again, so many examples, but the awesome takedown of Dubaku’s men in 7x08 and their fanfreakintastic teamwork during the Hassan evac mess in 8x15 are a couple.
8. These are people who cut thumbs and heads off with saws, who kill on instinct with whatever weapons are available to them, who are willing to torture others in any number of ways in order to extract information. However, when they’re around each other, it’s an instant 180. They are so gentle. JFC, Jack chokeholds Renee (for her own safety), and then gently arranges her body on the table, looking apologetic. Neither is capable of intentionally causing the other physical or emotional pain.
9. Each can get through to the other when no one else can. With shipper goggles on, the entire mess that’s the end of S8 results from the fact that Renee’s not around to talk Jack out of his insanity (yes, I realize his insanity is about her death, so probably there’s a fly in that logic ointment, but whatever). When she is there, all she has to do is say his name.
10. They are so hot. I mean, just watch the bookcase kiss .gif. People this pretty should make out 24/7, no doubt. And yet gah, their connection is about so much more than physical attraction. It’s about two shattered people who cannot help being drawn to the one other person in the world who sees everything, darkness included, and still wants the whole package, no questions asked. It doesn’t get a lot more shippy than that.
And now, gifspam!
Gifspam concluded with my favorite Jack/Renee .gif of all time, because they’re smiling.
Finally, fic recs. A quick note about these. It is a truth universally acknowledged that practically no one writes this pairing. While this is a fact that will forever mystify me, there you have it. Consequently, I do have multiple recs for just a few authors, but hey – when you find quality, why pretend otherwise?
Fic Rec #1: a jolly christmas
Rating/Warning(s): au, series spoilers
Why This Must Be Read: Because sardonicynic is brilliant, no matter what she writes. In theory this is holiday!fic (and it is), but this author never forgets that we’re dealing with two haunted people. This is a perfect post S7 AU, with Renee cracked and brittle, hating on pretty much everything in the world. Naturally, Jack is the exception, the reason she doesn’t throw the entire holiday out the window, and as trite as I’m managing to make that sound, in the hands of this author it’s anything but.
Fic Rec #2 rise and fall (you're down, then you rise again)
Rating/Warning(s): series spoilers, vague references to torture and PTSD
Why This Must Be Read: This is a brutal but perfect look at Jack and Renee in a post S8 AU where they’re on the run. This fic is so good it hurts to read it, because the characters’ pain bleeds right off the page. There aren’t any hearts and flowers here, but there is a gorgeous sense of dark laughter, of what these two manage to rescue from the ruins.
Fic Rec #3: borrowed time
Rating/Warning(s): series spoilers, and as the author so aptly points out, dramatic irony;)
Why This Must Be Read: Because masochism is fun? Actually, because while it’s the tiniest moment, it’s a sexy-as-hell bittersweet glimpse into Jack’s mind during one of the only times in the entire series when he’s allowed to be happy for five minutes.
Fic Rec #4: one foot in and one foot back
Rating/Warning(s): mentions of violence and allusions to torture
Why This Must Be Read: This author is an insane genius at letting things live between the lines, and this ficlet illustrates that fact like woah. It’s just Jack and Renee, working together in the same perfect cadence as they do on the show, communicating novels to each other without having to speak. There’s a darkness in each of them that only the other one sees, and yet somehow, mixed in with pancakes and guns, it all works.
Fic Rec #5: Five Times Jack and Renee Danced
Rating/Warning(s): series spoilers, AU
Why This Must Be Read: As the title suggests, this story is a series of snapshots. I love a million things about it, but I especially love the author’s use of parentheses and her imaginative take on the word “dance.” Plus, bonus Jack and Renee being adorable and normal in all the ways they were never allowed to be on the show.
Fic Rec #6: Eyes in a Moon of Blindness
Rating/Warning(s): series spoilers, sexytimes, AU
Why This Must Be Read: This is two pieces posted in one, and they’re both lovely in such different ways. The first one is a glimpse into the way things might have gone in a post S8 world where the writers weren’t idiots. It’s family!Jack learning how to put himself back into the world, still not sure how to balance having a “normal” life with all the lurking demons from his past. The second piece just just hot and so intimate in a way that gets me every time. It’s also a perfect way to illustrate the insane attention Jack gives Renee in canon (but with bonus nudity).
Fic Rec #7: Proximity
Rating/Warning(s): sexytimes, AU
Why This Must Be Read: Because it’s fun. Because Jack and Renee are so hot they should have sex all the time. And because this author can make even something that is almost PWP resonate with love and the connection these two characters share.
Fic Rec #8: Art of the Fall
Rating/Warning(s): Spoilers through S7, AU like woah
Why This Must Be Read: I already recced this one in my Renee Walker character manifesto, but in short, I don’t feel as if any Jack/Renee shipper manifesto would be complete without this fic. It will forever live in my mind as an integral part of the huge AU pillowfort I constructed (with a lot of help from my friends) post 8x17. You pretty much have to read it yourself to see all the reasons it’s amazing.
Fic Rec #9: Even the Waking Sleep
Rating/Warning(s): AU, lots of general PTSD
Why This Must Be Read: I have to be honest – this fic hits so many of my kinks I can’t even count them. I know a lot of people have trouble imagining Jack like this, but while clearly YMMV, I feel that if you can’t imagine this you haven’t watched the show, particularly S8. Nothing (besides fear for his family) breaks Jack’s heart like letting people down. We all saw what happened in canon when he “broke his promise” to Renee. This is what might have happened if things had gone the other way and they both had to live with the fallout.
Fic Rec #10: Run
Rating/Warning(s): Spoilers through S7, AU
Why This Must Be Read: This ficlet is an unflinching look at what could have been the fallout from Jack’s biotoxin exposure. He and Renee are perfectly in character, understanding each other without words, knowing when to push and when to ease up.
Fic Rec #11: Benediction
Rating/Warning(s): Spoilers through mid S8, AU, references to rape and abuse
Why This Must Be Read: I went back to read this again when I was putting together fic recs, and just as when I first ran across the story, I was amazed at how the author gets these two characters and where they might have been if the story had branched off just after 8x07. Renee is so broken here, but Jack’s broken too (if only in less fresh ways). The story is beautiful, told in small vignettes that make up a picture of two people working through mountains of baggage in an attempt to create not only a workable relationship, but workable versions of themselves.
FINALLY, THE PARAGRAPH(S) IN WHICH I GEEK OUT ABOUT WHY I LOVE THEM SO HARD.
I love that when S7 opens, Jack desperately wants to close Renee off, shut her out, push her away, and he just cannot do it. She’s so good, so persistent, so in his face and in his space with her, “You’re coming with me, and we’re doing this MY way” that before he has time to think about it, he cares what she thinks, and he never figures out how to stop. I love that she can make him lose it by pulling the Teri card, until he’s running down a hallway screaming at her. I love that she can slap the ever-living shit out of him and all he does is grab her wrist. I love that when Jack is so sick he has to run with a limp, he dashes into a burning building for no other reason than to find her. I love that when Jack’s dying and he has nothing left except his daughter, he trusts Renee to save Kim. I love that when Jack’s strapped to a bomb and Renee’s running toward him, he’s freaks out so much he’s screaming her name through duct tape. I love that for everything they go through in Day 7, in the end, when he thinks he’s dying, he gently tries to warn her about what choosing his way of life means, and she chooses it anyway.
I love that he calls her seven fucking times in between Day 7 and Day 8, and she doesn’t answer, not because she doesn’t want to talk to him, but because he matters enough that she wants to give him a chance at life without her baggage. I love that the entire reason he stays in Day 8 is because of her. I love that he’s the only person who can crack her even a little when Day 8 opens. Her face when he screams, “You’re unstable” is burned in my brain, because it’s so clear in her eyes that he’s the only person left who can hurt her. I love that after she’s been raped, all she cares about is making sure that Vladimir doesn’t kill Jack. I love the way Jack’s entire body twitches watching Vladimir touch her, how you know that if Jack had his way, he’d rip Vlad’s lungs out through his mouth and enjoy every second. I love that, until 8x07, Renee’s eyes only come back in Jack’s presence, and only come fully to life when she stabs him and realizes what she’s done. I love that when Jack’s bleeding from a wound she gave him, he doesn’t give a crap. His only concern is for her. I love that at the end of 8x07, all he wants to do is get the hell out forever and take her home. I adore the way Renee won’t compromise when Jack disappears, how she’s on a one woman mission to find and save him, and she does. I love that when he comes to after being knocked out by multiple gunshots to his Kevlar-covered chest, all she has to say is, “It’s me. It’s Renee,” to calm him down. I love that after everything that’s gone down that day, she’s one of the only people he wants on the assault team. I freakin’ LOVE the fact that he takes her aside and makes her promise she’ll stay behind him and do exactly what he says, and then ten seconds later she’s taking point. I love that she tries to let him “off the hook” for all the promises he made her that day, and his entire face is just, “No really, wtf?” I love that while any other guy would actually think about the fact that she’d “slept” with someone else not 12 hours ago, it’s irrelevant to Jack. He understands what’s involved in a mission, and he just doesn’t care. I love that the first thing he says when he can breathe again after sex is, “You okay?” I LOVE THE WAY THEY CAN MANAGE TO BE ADORABLLE AND SHY EVEN THOUGH THEY JUST HAD CRAZY INSANE SEX. I love the way he can barely stop kissing her enough to get out of bed and grab them a couple glasses of water. I love the way her fingers touch his scars as he’s getting dressed, and he doesn’t flinch, even a little. He just looks back at her, smiling in his bed all curled up in his sheets, and says, “Don’t move.”
But not quite the end, without a huge thank you to sardonicynic for making sure to put her fics up in a place where everyone can see them and to adrenalin211 for the insanely quick read-through, graphics help when I was in dire straights, and general moral support and awesomeness. Thanks for pulling me through this insane week. dealan311, feel so much better.
And a giant thank you to irony_rocks for the generous time extension that allowed me to finish this. :)