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A NIGHT ON THE TOWN

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: A Night On The Town
Author: marinw
Rating: PG for Schmoop.
Characters: Jack/Renee
Summary: Jack and Renee enjoy a night out. Minor spoilers for Day 8.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: Written for an armbell prompt. Thanks to my beta cybertoothtiger.

They both hated Christmas.

Jack and Renee approached their night on the town with the same foreboding as infiltrating a terrorist stronghold.

They were both in New York City for different reasons, and they were both recovering from various traumas. It seemed logical for them to get together and at least try to enjoy themselves.

At precisely 19:00 hours Renee met Jack in the lobby of his small but surprisingly nice SoHo apartment-hotel.

He looked so good. His hospital pallor had replaced itself with a tan and he had put on a few badly needed pounds. He was wearing jeans in a dark wash, and navy (Cashmere?) V-neck sweater over a white collared shirt. This was topped by a brown leather jacket, luxurious yet still rugged.

Except for his boots his clothes looked new. Had he gone shopping? Renee tried to imagine Jack on a reconnaissance mission in the men’s department of Macy’s. Her mind couldn’t form the image.

Renee was wearing a feminine version of Jack’s costume-dark jeans, and a black leather jacket over a dark green turtleneck sweater. They hadn’t exactly discussed the night’s plans but Renee was reasonably certain that it didn’t require fancy dress.

He was on his phone. “Sweetheart, I have to go…I’ll see you in a few days…kiss Teri for me, okay?” His voice was smiling.

He looked up from the overstuffed to chair to see Renee. “We should go eat.”

Renee had been craving Chinese food all day. Not an option.

“I passed a Cantonese place this afternoon. We can go there.” Jack said.

It was astonishing how Jack could compartmentalize.

Ten minutes later they were in a cozy basement restaurant ordering Cantonese noodles (the thick greasy kind) bok choy with beef, jasmine rice and those impossibly complicated little deep-fried dumplings. The food was to be washed down with some pale Chinese beer. Jack accepted the waiter’s recommendation without blinking.

“You can drink?” Asked Renee. She knew Jack was still taking several medications.

“One beer will be fine.”

I’m not his nurse. Jack doesn’t need to be taken care of that way. Not anymore.

Once the food arrived Jack handled the chopsticks with great agility. A testament to both his compartmentalization abilities and his fine motor skills.

For a man with so many issues there were remarkably few eggshells to walk over.

The Happy Grandpa part of the conversation only lasted a few minutes and so Jack and Renee were soon onto serious matters. It was inevitable as they were both serious people. Renee’s life was a mess and Jack was one of the few people she could talk to. Even when he wasn’t comatose.

At the end of their meal Jack gave the waiter his credit card before Renee could react.

Dammit. This really was a date.

“Do you mind if we drop by a toy store? I need to pick something up.” Jack asked.

Teri.

“Sure. It’s Christmas. The stores are open late.”

“I hate Christmas. But I still want to do this.”

••••

Despite the numerous yellow taxis Jack and Renee took the Subway to Fifth Avenue.

The first time Renee had read Jack’s file she had been surprised to learn that Jack had been born into wealthy family. He had not the tinniest whiff of entitlement, of trust funds and private schools and private jets. Not even now, with his not-inexpensive hotel suite and his new clothes. The president had seen to it that Jack received a generous government pension. For the first time in years he could afford a few of the nicer creature comforts. He seemed to be enjoying himself carefully, not being extravagant, not using taxis when the subway was more than sufficient. Interesting.

They entered FOA Schwarz and decided on a search-and-destroy approach to the stuffed animals. They both stopped in their tracks to admire the almost life-sized stuffed giraffes and hippos.

“That won’t fit in Kim’s luggage,” Renee noted.

“This will,” Jack went to the nearest aisle and pulled out an unbearably cute polar bear.

He grinned. Having someone to shop for made him so happy.

He purchased the toy and secured it in his courier bag. “What would you like to do now?”

She was embarrassed. “It’s corny.”

“Tell me.”

“Rockefeller Square. The tree is up. I know you hate Christmas, but I’d still like to see it.”

“Let’s go.”

••••

The December night was mild. But the chill coming off the ice rink caused Renee to reach for her hat and gloves. Jack purchased two hot chocolates from the nearest Starbucks. The sweet liquid provided an excellent counterpoint to the spicy food they had eaten. For several minutes they were silent, staring at the huge tree and the skaters, framed by the Mayan temple configuration of the Art Deco skyscrapers.

It was corny. But it was also very, very nice.

“To torture a man you have to know his pleasures,” Renee said suddenly.

“Excuse me?” Said Jack.

“Just something I read.”

“That quote isn’t from the Army Field Manual. Or anything from CTU. I think I wrote one of their manuals.”

“Stanislaw Lem.”

“I didn’t know you liked science fiction.”

“I’m a Trekkie,” Renee admitted.

“The man has a point. It’s a common tactic. Deprive a person of his creature comforts. The things he enjoys. Good food. Human contact. Warm clothes. Clean sheets. All the little things that make life enjoyable. You can break someone that way. If you have enough time. And if the man is too attached to his pleasures.”

Renee knew she had just inserted the world’s largest foot directly in her mouth.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. China…”

“It’s okay. I know this isn’t about me. Wilson. You’re thinking about Wilson.”

“I can’t let it go. Wilson is very, very rich. Used to luxury. I could have used that.”

“You didn’t have enough time.”

“I destroyed my career. For nothing.”

Jack didn’t debate the point.

They went back to staring at the festive decorations and people enjoying themselves.

Jack put his arm around Renee. Tentatively, almost they way he had hugged her after Marika died.

She leaned into him, her cheek making contact with the cold leather surface of his coat. She noted how the weight he had put on had accumulated mostly in his chest and arms.

He stroked her back. She tried not to cry.

“Better?” He asked.

“I’m fine now.” Her composure regained, she leaned against the railing of the rink.

“Thank you. For spending the evening with me. It’s been nice.” Said Jack.

“Do you still hate Christmas?” Renee asked.

“Not as much.”

THE END

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
alwaysashipper
Dec. 8th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Just a quick note to let you know that I'm really looking forward to reading this. Hopefully I'll have the time tomorrow. :)
marinw
Dec. 8th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
This fic isn't going anywhere. Thanks for dropping by.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )