That was thought going through his head as he watched the unconscious woman, his eyes not leaving her pale face. He had cleaned off the blood and sutured the gash on her forehead. Being in his line of work, he had more than a basic working knowledge of some first aid. But her leg? That was beyond his skill set. As it was, he had set it as best he could, straightening out the limb so that the sight of it bent so grotesquely no longer made him want to vomit.
Ironic. Jackson Rippner did not do caring.
He had killed countless people, some innocent and some less than, yet the thought of this woman lying there, helpless and hurt, made him sick. Clearly he was losing his touch, and he couldn't figure out why that didn't bother him as much as it should have. She was getting under his skin in a way he could not have predicted and now all he wanted was her to wake up. Wake up and yell at him. Scream at him. Call him every name in the book and fight him for her freedom. He didn't care what she did, as long as she opened her eyes.
But he'd never tell her that.
His elbows were braced on his thighs, hands fisted under his chin as he continued to stare. Now watching the rise and fall of her chest. He didn't know how much time had passed that he stayed there, not moving, just staring and trying to think of different ways to wake her up. If she wouldn't wake up on her own, he'd have no choice but to wake her up himself.
As he was thinking of some more…elaborate ways to get the job done, he heard a hitch of breath and a low moan and his eyes flew back to her face.
Her eyes were rolling beneath her lids are she struggled to open them. Another low moan escaped her as the pain came rolling back.
"Lisa," he called her name softly, trying to coax her to consciousness faster. Because clearly he would be the one she'd want to wake for. Yeah, right. He needed to get these bullshit things called feelings under control, and fast. "Hey," he called louder, sterner. "Wake up."
Her only response was a stronger cry.
Jackson exploded out his chair and loomed over her, leaning down, his fists braced on the mattress. "Wake. Up." His voice was succinct as he tried to reign in his fear fueled rage. He wanted to shake her, force her eyes open. But he wouldn't .
Those goddamn shoes.
He bounced his knuckles on the mattress, creating a small wave of motion as if that would open her eyes faster. Minutes passed as he stood there, shoulders slightly hunched as his eyes moved over her face, watching as she tried to claw her way to consciousness.
Finally, her eyes opened slightly, letting the barest hint of light in before they slammed shut and her face turned away.
"Off," she whispered, and then cleared her throat. "Please," she begged, "turn it off."
For someone with his level of intelligence, it took a few seconds for him to realize she was talking about the lamp by her beside. He quickly switched it off, the only light remaining was coming from the window in the corner. The shade was only raised up an inch, letting in the soft glow from the setting sun.
"Okay," he said, trying to keep the concern from his voice. Where's your legendary control now, Rippner?
Lisa turned her face back towards him, one eye opening slowly, more slowly than he would have preferred. Once she realized that the light wasn't causing stabbing bolts of pain, she opened the other one, locking her pain filled gaze on his intense one.
"What…", she started, licking her drip lips.
He straightened up and cut in before she could finish her question. "There was an accident," his words were clipped, sharp, barely controlled.
Get it together.
Her eyes rolled to the side as she looked at him, trying not to move her aching body. "An accident?"
"Yes. That's what I said. You fell down the stairs and nearly burned the damn house down." He let his worry turn into anger. Anger he could deal with. Anger that she was hurt. Anger that she could have been killed from something so…so…fucking stupid.
She glared at him, or tried to, but it was less effective since she was looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
"I'm so sorry I almost burned your precious house down," she hissed, voice so low he had to stop himself from leaning in to hear her. "Next time I nearly kill myself I'll make sure I have nothing cooking."
His reply was quick and steely, "You will do nothing like this ever again."
Over his dead body would something even remotely similar ever happen. If he had to throw away all the shoes in the house, he would. Fuck that, he'd forbid her to ever step foot on the upper floor again. She'd sleep in the living room. Yes, that would work.
She took a deep breath, no doubt to say something scathing, but her breath was caught as a new wave of pain started in her leg and moved up her body. She tensed and gritted her teeth, which didn't help her throbbing head. No way would she let him see the amount of pain she was in.
Jackson held his own breath as he watched her try to hold her pain in. He knew the pain would be intense, she'd not had anything to dull it, and the break in her leg would make a lesser person want to vomit. He cleared his throat and made himself be as clinical as possible, "You have multiple contusions and a concussion which I stitched close," as if it were a favor he bestowed upon her, "additionally you have at least one break in your leg which will need to be seen by a professional."
"I thought you were the professional here."
"Yes, well, while that may be so, this is a little beyond my expertise," he replied, sticking his hands in his pockets, it not sitting well with him that he wasn't good at something.
"You're taking me to a hospital?" she sounded shocked. Well, of course she would, that would mean he would need to take her out in public. With people. People that could help her. Oh, thank god.
Turning to walk away from the bed, he chuckled and she didn't like it.
Lisa watched him walk to the door, not looking at her. Once he got to the door, he turned slightly and looked at her.
"Don't get your hopes up, sweetheart."