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beth writing 30 days without

Fic: Primeval - You Can't Save Them All, (1/1) K+

Title: You Can’t Save Them All
Author: maddie_amber
Word Count: 3000
Rating: K+ (PG)
Characters: Jess and Becker
Warnings: None
Spoilers: None
Genre: Hurt/comfort/angst, and maybe a hint of Becker/Jess

Disclaimer: The characters and situations portrayed in Primeval belong to someone else.  Only the plot of this story belongs to me. 

Summary: Tag to episode 4-4.  It was just a social call to check on a injured friend, Jess told herself.
A special thanks to Marinawings for beta assistance.  Greatly appreciated!!

 

 

You Can’t Save Them All

Jess Parker felt the warm flush of embarrassment creeping up her face even as she mentally chastised herself for her reaction. She had closed her fist and raised her hand to knock on his door when the when the heat of blood rushing to her cheeks made her pause. She had no reason to be embarrassed. None at all. None. She had come to check on a friend who had suffered a painful, life-threatening injury. That was all. She wasn’t going to turn back now, although no-one knew she planned to call and no-one would be the wiser if she did or didn’t. But, she told herself again, this is just a social call, not a date. It had been two days since Becker’s injury at the McKinnon School. Two days since a pack of Therocephalians had rampaged through the high school building. Two days since she’d watched as one of them had torn a young girl apart like – no, she would not think of that. This was not about her and that did not matter now.

Her mental wrangling took only moments and when she finished she had recapturing her resolve. Rapping sharply on the door, she waited for a response. Her knock was met with silence. Holding her breath she forced herself to calmly count to 30 before knocking again, more forcefully. She felt her heart sinking. Perhaps he wasn’t home. He might be feeling well enough to have stepped out with friends. Just because she couldn’t ferret out the information, didn’t mean he didn’t have friends. Possibly even a girlfriend. Maybe she was an unwanted guest he didn’t need. Maybe this idea had been a huge mistake.

She should just leave. Leave before she really did have a reason to be blushing. She was just turning to away from the door when she heard a distinct thud, and a less distinct groan from the other side of the door. Unless he truly did have a visiting lady friend, thuds and groans were not good sounds.

“Captain Becker,” she called out tentatively.

There was no answer. But she heard a shuffling, dragging noise approaching the door. It reminded her of sound effects from a bad zombie movie she had watched alone, in a dark, dark theater when she was much too young for that sort of thing. The sound had terrified her then and it brought back wretched memories of that terror now. As the deadbolt slid aside and the door cracked open she felt herself smiling weakly.

“Captain Becker. It’s me, Jess. I stopped to see how you were doing.” Jess cringed. That line certainly sounded like a statement her grandmother would have come up with.

The door opened wider and Becker leaned heavily on the door jam. He looked like hell, his hair disheveled, ugly blue shadows under eyes that hadn’t quite focused on her, as though he had just awoken from a deep or drugged sleep. There were high spots of color on his cheeks and a sheen of sweat glistened on his forehead. Without thinking, Jess reached out and brushed the backs of her fingers against his face.

“You’re burning up with fever,” she said.

“I’ve felt better.” He pushed himself upright and she could tell it took tremendous effort for him to stand. “Look, Jess, I’m really not in the mood for company.”

“I’m not here to be company. Well, I was,” she fumbled, “but I’m also here to check on you. No one has heard from you and we were concerned.”

“We?”

She could hear the sarcasm in his comment.

“Yes, we,” but mostly me, she added mentally. “We know nothing about the long-term effects of the venom you were injected with.” She pushed the door open enough to slip into the room and was immediately assailed by the powerful odor alcohol. “Captain Becker,” she said sternly, “you should know better than to mix alcohol with the drugs you were given.”

For a moment he looked confused then shook his head. “Not drinking it,” he said. “Broke a bottle.  Not that getting drunk didn’t sound like a good idea.”

Jess could see that he was swaying on his feet. “Look, let me help you to the couch.” Before he could object she wrapped one arm around his waist and guided him across the room. As she lowered him to the couch she knew he was biting back another groan. Her concern became alarm as she helped lift his injured leg. This time he did groan, and the color drained from his face.

“Becker, I need to look at your leg.”

“Are you a doctor now?” His voice was sharp with pain.

“No, but I need to see what we’re dealing with before I call one.” She packed as much authority into her voice as she could muster. She stopped there as she realized he would have to remove his trousers and noted, in what she hoped was clinically appropriate detachment, that he was wearing the same blue jeans he’d had on when he left the ARC. She also noted that he glared. He had obviously come to the same conclusion.

“You’re going to have to cut the leg,” he said. “Not my leg, the - ”

“Yes,” Jess interrupted as she breathed an inward sigh of relief. That small problem was more easily solved than she had anticipated.

“I really don’t think they are coming off any other way,” he added in an exasperated tone.

“Right. I know,” she answered, almost too quickly. “Cut.” Knife, scissors, she needed something sharp.

She allowed herself a quick look around his flat. It was surprisingly Spartan, as though he never quite finished moving in, or expected to leave after a short time and had added nothing personal to its interior. So unlike her own place, she thought. He did, she noted quickly, have one tall bookshelf, overflowing with books. She would love to take a look at what he was reading. The books people read tell you a lot about them, she thought. The only other decoration, if you could call it that, was a wall covered with antique guns of every sort. Their barrels immaculate and rust free, the wooden stocks buffed to a soft patina gleamed in the low light from the kitchen. You could tell a lot about a person from what they collected too, she added.

Turning towards the kitchen she rummaged through drawers, until she found what she needed then returned to the couch. She could see he was in pain by rigid way he held his body, his fists gripping the cushions, white knuckled with effort. He glanced up as he heard her approach and she saw his eyes widen with alarm as he focused on the 10 inch butcher knife she gripped firmly in her hand.

“That’s not exactly what I had in mind,” he said.

“I’m really very good with a knife,” she blurted. Then realized she must look like a slasher.

“I’m sure you are,” he said weakly, tensing as she approached.

“I promise I won’t cut anything vital,” she murmured, not quite apologetically. If he hadn’t been in such dire distress she could have had a great deal of fun with the current situation. “When was the last time you took any pain medication?”

He closed his eyes as if thinking then shook his head. “I…really…can’t remember.”

“That means you either took some recently and it’s affecting your memory, or you haven’t had any and the pain and fever are affecting your memory.”

“Or…” he hesitated as though struggling to grasp an elusive thought.  “You said it’s been two days…since…the incident at the school.”

“Yes,”

“I don’t remember,” his voice faltered.  “I remember driving home.  Parking.  Then walking into the building and up to my flat.”

“And,” Jess verbally nudged his memory.

“By the time I got inside, my whole body was tingling, my feet were numb, I could barely feel my hands.  I remember pouring a drink, then deciding it wasn’t a good idea.  I couldn’t even hold the glass.  My head was pounding, so I lay down on the couch.  The next thing I remember was you knocking on the door.”

It hurt Jess to see the look of confusion on his always confident face. “It could have been a delayed reaction to the venom,” she offered. 

Becker just nodded, uncertainty etched in his features.  

“We can figure that out later.  I need to take care of this leg.  Hold still,” she said as she slid the knife into the bottom of his trouser leg. She could feel him tense as the cold metal contacted fevered skin. Becker it appeared was as meticulous about keeping an edge on a knife as he was about cleaning weapons. For that she was thankful as the knife slid effortlessly through the tough denim with little force. Still, the sound of sharp steel sheering fabric set her teeth on edge. She peeled the material back as gently as she could and tried to keep her face expressionless.

“That bad?” Becker’s question was hissed through clenched teeth.

Blood had seeped through the heavy bandage wrapped around the bite wound, leaving a dark stain on the surface. “This needs to be changed,” Jess said as matter-of-factly as she could. “Did the infirmary staff send home spare bandages?”

Becker pointed to a white bag on a small table next to the door.

Jess quickly retrieved the bag assessing its contents as she returned to the kitchen. Inside were bandages, suture scissors, sterile saline to flush the wound, and betadine for washing. She quickly cleansed her hands with the betadine, then hurried back to Becker.

Carefully, she used the suture scissors to snip at the blood stained bandage peeling back the layers. As she tried to ease the gauze away from the wound, Becker sucked in his breath sharply. “Sorry, sorry,” she said quickly. “It has to come off.”

“I know.”

Jess finished the job as gently as she could, but the seeping wound had adhered to the bandage and in the end she had to be less gentle than she would have preferred. “This is not good,” she said absently as the last of the gauze pulled away. She had talked to the doctors at the ARC ,and she knew the wound had been deep, tearing through muscle and requiring multiple stitches. But the edges of the wound were now ragged and inflamed, and bone deep bruises from the crushing strength of the animal’s jaws had darkened most of Becker’s thigh. She did not like the way the wound looked nor did she like the fact that he obviously was running a temperature.

“Maybe it would be wise if you went to hospital,” she suggested.

Becker snickered. “And do you want to tell them how this happened? Or should I?”

“No. But there’s infection.”

“Some prehistoric bacteria no local doctor has ever had to deal with.” Becker shifted slightly, grunting as he jarred his leg. “Look,” he continued in a gentler tone, “if it hasn’t improved by morning I’ll report back to the ARC and let the doctors there have a go.”

“And if it gets worse, we don’t wait until morning.”

“We?”

Jess stood her ground. “Someone needs to look after you. Look at yourself after only two days. If I hadn’t come to call, what might have happened?”

Becker looked resigned as he closed his eyes and rested his head back on the cushions. “Okay.”

Jess was somewhat surprised that he capitulated without more argument. Maybe he felt so bad that her company would actually be welcome. “I need to clean this wound, put on fresh bandages. Did they give you antibiotics?”

“Yes.”

Jess spread the contents of the bag on the floor where she could easily reach everything. Gently, she lifted his leg and slid a protective pad under his knee and thigh. Returning to the kitchen she rummaged until she found a suitable basin, filled it with warm water and betadine, and returned to Becker’s side.

“It will hurt less if you relax,” she instructed. “Try taking deep breaths in through your nose. Out through your mouth. Concentrate on your breathing not on what I’m doing.”

Becker nodded, and she heard his breathing settle into a smooth, disciplined rhythm.

Jess worked quickly to cleanse the dried blood from his thigh and redress the wound. She did not like the look of Becker’s leg and vowed to herself that the slightest sign that his injury or fever was worsening and they would be off to the ARC. In the meantime, she would make him as comfortable as she could, whether he objected or not.

“You’re very good at that.”

Jess looked up to see that he was watching her. She could feel herself blushing again.

“I meant that. Seriously.”

“Good at it for a kid you mean.” And why did she always feel the need to defend the fact that she was so much younger than he was. She was young. Sometimes, when he was close to her, she felt as girlish as he seemed to think she was.

“No,” he said quietly. “I wasn’t teasing you.”

Jess took a deep breath of her own, fighting her own irrational defensiveness. “My mother was a doctor.” She continued to work as she talked. “She volunteered at a free clinic and sometimes I would help her with basic care. I thought about a career in medicine.”

“Why did you change your mind?” Becker winced as she drew the new bandages snuggly around his leg.

“Sorry,” she said.

“So why did you decide not to go into medicine?” He repeated his question.

“Because you can’t save everyone,” she answered.

Becker winced again, not from physical pain, but, she guessed, from the implication of her comment and the memory of the last time she had spoken those words to him.

“I remember how disturbed my mother would be when she lost a patient - when she had to tell a family that she had failed to keep their loved one alive. She never accepted the fact that there were some deaths she simply could not prevent.”

Jess had found the bottles of medication along with the fresh bandages. She counted the correct dosage and handed them to him. “Antibiotics and pain killers,” she informed him.

There was a long moment of silence as she finished her work and began to clean up. When she glanced at Becker his face was an unreadable mask. “You said your mother was a doctor?”

“After my father died, she lost interest in her practice. She couldn’t bear to lose another patient. Eventually she went on to become a teacher.”

“Sorry about your father.”

“That was several years ago.” Jess shrugged her shoulders.

“Your parents had a good marriage.”

“Yes. They truly were in love despite the difference in their ages.”

Becker was silent.

She needed to convince him that, in her mind, the age thing truly was not important. The Parker women always married ‘up’ in age. Mother had admonished her to ‘marry up to your IQ, not down to your hormones.’ Not that marriage was at all part of the game right now. She wasn’t even sure of what she felt for Becker beyond a powerful attraction. She was here as a friend and nothing more to make sure he was recovering and that he did not need anything.

“My father was 13 years my mother’s senior.” Jess volunteered, as though that alone should end any issue Becker had with the difference in their ages. “I’m going to fix you a bite to eat. Those medications will sit better on your stomach if you have food in it.” With those words she scooped up the remaining medical supplies and headed once more to the kitchen leaving Becker to ponder her words. She found his refrigerator seriously under stocked and wished she’d thought to pick up Chinese on the way. Still, Jess managed to find enough to make a decent sandwich and a hot cup of tea.

When she returned several minutes later Becker’s his face was as closed as it had been before she left, distant and thoughtful.  She moved the small table beside the door and positioned it next to the couch, setting the tray of food beside him.

“You really should eat something," she coaxed gently.

“Look, Jess, I said you could stay. I didn’t say I was going to be good company.”

She sensed, no she knew, there was more bothering him than just his injury. He had taken the deaths of the teacher and student personally, as though he had been directly responsible. “I don’t expect good company,” she said, honestly, “I just want to make sure you’re all right.”

He remained silent. There was little else she could do if he did not want to talk. Briskly she walked back to the kitchen and located a broom. She came back to the main room and began sweeping up the broken glass by the fireplace hearth. She assumed it was source of the whiskey smell. She suspected the bottle had not simply been dropped - thrown perhaps judging from the violent dispersal of smashed glass. Had Becker thrown the bottle in a fit of anger or self loathing? It was not for her to criticize or judge. He would talk about it in his own good time, if ever.

“You don’t have to do that,” Becker said quietly.

Dare she think, sheepishly? “It’s no problem,” she answered, keeping her tone light. It really wasn’t a problem.

“Your mother was wrong,” he said after a long moment of silence.

Jess turned to look at him, broom still in her hand.

“Not being able to save them all was no reason to quit.” He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, resting his head on the cushion.

Before she could formulate an argument the meds won the war with his consciousness and he finally drifted off to sleep. She waited, almost expecting him to open his eyes and continue the conversation. But he was truly, deeply asleep. Maybe, she thought, that is as much as he will ever say on the matter. She hoped he had made peace with his own actions. He truly had been brilliant, and two young boys had him, Matt and Connor to thank for their lives. She would never forget the young girl who died, nor the horrible way she passed, but she would never quit her position at the ARC because of it.

Jess finished cleaning up the glass, picked up the untouched tray of food and returned it to the kitchen, then went in search of the bedroom and a blanket. She covered Becker, tucking in the edges to make sure he stayed warm, gently felt his forehead brushing a stray lock of hair into place as she did. He still had a fever, but his face was less flushed. Sleep should do wonders, giving the antibiotics a chance to work.

Walking to the bookshelf, she glanced at its overflowing contents, selected a volume, then when back to where Becker slept. Curling up in the arm chair next to the couch, she cracked open the volume and settled in for the night.   

<end>

 

 

Comments

This really is a lovely story. It has such genuine emotion to it. Definitely one of my favorites!
It's good that Jess came round really!