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Fandom: 24
Characters: Jack Bauer, Renee Walker
Pairings: Jack/Renee
Rating: PG
Summary: Should auld acquaintance be forgot/and never brought to mind?/Should auld acquaintance be forgot/in days of auld lang syne?
Spoilers:  None, set post-S7
Warnings: None
Challenges: Inspired by requests for Porn Battle 11 from [livejournal.com profile] century_fox  and [livejournal.com profile] paladin24  (comfort, closeness, couch, relaxed) but not finished at the time.  Also inspired by Friction Bailey's version of "Auld Lang Syne".  Finally finished in honour of Renee Walker Day.


“Come on, spank me! Spank me, you know you want to!”

Jack grimaced, wondering if there was enough alcohol in the world to put up with this. This wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind when he’d thought about how to spend the evening, but then the other options weren’t any better.

Renee dropped onto the couch beside him, holding out a champagne flute. Not filled with champagne, unfortunately, not with the medications he was on; ginger ale would have to do. “Poor Anderson. He really should know better by now.”

Jack looked back at the screen where Anderson Cooper was turning more and more red by the minute as Kathy Griffin presented him with her denim-clad rear end for spanking; the crowds in Times Square screeching with New Years’-fuelled merriment in the background.

“Maybe CNN pays him extra for putting up with her embarrassing him.”

“Maybe he likes it,” Renee said with a waggle of her eyebrows.

Jack hit the “last” button, flipping over to another station, but their alternative was a band of twenty-somethings screeching into microphones at Rockefeller Center. Instead, he flicked back to CNN as the live feed switched to the crowd on the street, everyone red-cheeked from the cold and beaming. Glancing at the two of them, Jack couldn’t help but feel the difference in atmosphere. Him in sweats, her in yoga pants, sipping ginger ale while sprawled on the couch, trying to find something decent on the TV.  His wheelchair parked next to the couch; the real reason they hadn't gone out anywhere that night.  Not because of the chair itself, of course, but one of the symbols of how much he couldn't do because he didn't have the strength or the energy.

Not the worst New Year’s he’s spent, but not how he would have preferred to do it.

“We should be there, instead of having to watch these two on TV,” Jack said, finally.

Renee looked over at him and he could feel the sharpness of her gaze even as she gave him a smile. “You really think I want to be stuffed into one of those cattle pens with a bunch of drunken idiots in the freezing cold? Geez, Jack, and here I thought you knew me.”

That pulls a small smile from him. “Okay, maybe not Times Square. But I still feel like we should have done something special.”

“I don’t need special, Jack. Special is having you here,” she says, her eyes clouding for a moment. He knows her well enough to hear the unspoken thought that there’d been a good chance he wasn’t going to be, the day that they’d met.

There’s a short pause before she adds, “Is there something else bothering you?”

He didn’t say anything for a moment, before he finally let it out. “Not really. I just...I’ve never really liked New Year’s much.”

“Yeah, the end of the year kind of makes you think about everything that’s happened in the last twelve months, or the last nine,” she said softly, one hand absently feathering the hair at his nape. “About everyone you’re leaving behind. Maybe that’s a good thing though. We’re still here, we need to keep going, and it’s hard to do that looking backwards. Living in the past doesn’t change it.”

He looked over at her, her eyes focused on her hand in his hair but not really looking at what she’s doing. Her eyebrows had drawn together slightly, and he had the feeling she was telling herself that as much as him. That, like him, it’s something she knew in her head, but it wasn’t always easy to remember it in her heart.

“Yeah, you’re right,” he said, his voice as gentle as his touch when he turned toward her and reached up to gently stroke his thumb over her cheekbone. “Of course. It’s going to start getting annoying if you keep being right.”

She looked at his eyes then, a slight smile wiping away a little of the sadness that had crept into her expression as her own demons had come out. “I’ll try to be wrong sometimes.”

For a moment, she traced the shape of his jaw with one finger before she added, “It’s been a rough year for both of us. Next year will be better.”

Jack watched the emotions flicker across her face. They’d both lost so much this last year; but they’d both gained something too. Celebrating the one doesn’t mean they weren’t honouring the other.

He wrapped it around hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Next year will be better.”

She looked at their joined hands, looked at him, and smiled softly. “We can start making that happen now, too. Get a jump on things.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?” he asked, a slow, sly grin curling his mouth.

Placing her glass on the coffee table, she turned her body toward him, kneeling on the couch. She leaned close, hands brushing his waist as she braced herself on either side of him. “Like the traditional midnight kiss.”

“We might miss the countdown and the ball drop.” Like he really gave a shit about either, when she was leaning over him with that look in her eyes.

“There’s always next year.” She was so close now, he could feel the heat of her breath on his mouth.

“Yeah, there is,” Jack said, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. Even after knowing her for so many months, the warmth of her body against his was still a comfort after he’d so long kept people at a distance.

From the television there was the dim sound of the countdown, then the strains of “Auld Lang Syne”. Horns honked--more than usual--on the street below Jack’s windows, followed by the low booming sound of fireworks.

Jack hardly noticed any of it, too absorbed in the soft movement of Renee’s mouth against his, in that moment, in the thought of the moments to come. And for once, in the hope that the next year would be better.
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