We all need Saving
Disclaimer: I do not own Off the Map – all characters belong to ABC and their respective creators. Story title inspired by Jon McLaughlin's "We all need saving" – a very nice song, by the way, and sometimes also used in the Off the Map promos.
Summary: This is a short story from Keeton's POV about how he had to pull Brenner from the river in the episode 1x09.
Author's note: As I had to with "The Saviour and the Killer", I needed to get this 'out of my system', too :-) I just couldn't stop thinking about it. And how great it would have been if Lily had been comforted by Keeton in the end. I am just a sucker for that pairing! This story will definitely have two chapters, maybe three, if I decide to have Keeton comfort Lily :-).
We all need Saving - Chapter 1
We are ready to head back to the clinic. All we have to do is find Brenner first. My eyes search the site, as Fuller shouts out some instructions to the local helpers and orders two units of 0 negative blood for our patient. I really have to tell him that he did a good job down by the river. Bypassing the hepatic artery with a temporary shunt was genius. And everybody needs to know, especially 'plastics'. I chuckle slightly upon thinking of Otis Cole's rather degrading nickname for our first plastic surgeon down here. Now, I don't regret hiring Fuller, although I had had my doubts, at first.
I drop my back to the ground and let my eyes trail over the scene again - people still sit by the riverbanks, tend to others, some weep and cry, and some have started to gather their stuff that had not been washed away by the river.
But I can't see her.
Fuller comes up beside me, anxious to get back to the clinic, to take care of our patient, but really rather his. Pride washes over me. I had been the assistant down there, helping Fuller … and not the other way around. And this was really all the proof I needed to clear my mind of any doubts I ever had about Tommy Fuller. He's there when you need him – medically and personally. He is someone very valuable for the clinic. And someone very valuable to point out the obvious, too.
"Where's Lily?" Tommy asks.
My stomach slightly turns. Just what I had been thinking a few seconds ago. A normal picture would be to see her down there with the patients, jumping from person to person, taking care of them and the situation. Just what she does best. But she is not down there. And Tommy notices, too. I sigh deeply, not letting the ferocious river and its rapids out of my sight, before I start yelling to a local helper, "Hey, Eduardo! ¿Donde está la doctora?" I slightly dread the answer.
Fuller listens to what Eduardo yells back, but doesn't understand that much Spanish yet. What he does understand, though, is the gesture: Eduardo is pointing downstream, towards where the muddy river disappears deeper into the jungle.
"What's wrong?" Fuller asks me again.
"She went downriver to look for some kid," I sigh, not liking the sound of it. Down here, you kind of develop a certain knack for situations. Brenner, out of sight, with a possibly injured kid sounds a lot like problems to me. Problems, she might not be able to solve alone, even though she's the toughest of the three doctors. Maybe she needs help.
"We have to tell her that we'll head back," I reply and brush my right hand over my stubble to clear my thoughts, and to think about what to do next. I feel Fuller is nodding beside me and suddenly I remember that he's capable of doing things on his own, so why not sending him back? On his own? "Tell you what, Fuller. You get your patient in the OR and I'm gonna try and find her, alright?" I am trying to convey as much support and confidence with the look I am giving Fuller. He's nodding slightly, and I can see that he gets my underlying message.
"Yeah," Tommy answers.
With that I start running down hill, feeling Fuller's eyes on my back. The terrain is rocky and rough. The more I stride away from the site of the accident, the more the foliage, bushes, and trees keep getting in my way, slowing me down. Just now, with me leaving the people behind and making my way along the river, I start to realise how uneasy I feel. Something I can't explain … and rather don't want to admit to myself anymore than necessary. It's just a very sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I start to run faster. Well, as fast as the trees and shrubbery allow me to go, but I speed up involuntarily. How much more proof do I need to see that I am worried? Not worried about Lily Brenner's skills to handle a situation, but rather about her well-being. Worried that something might be wrong with her.
I pant slightly, as the river makes a large and generous turn to the right, disappearing into the jungle, with my path being blocked by a small, yet non-accessible languet. I stay still, only the sound of my heart hammering in my chest and the typical sounds of the rainforest surrounding me, as I try to think of what to do next. I have been running along the river for about 15 minutes now – and yet no sign of her … or the kid. Anybody, for that matter. I put my hands on my thighs and inhale a few deep breaths to steady my breathing, as somebody squeals.
My upper body shoots up again. I stop breathing and wish for the rainforest to go quiet for once. But I hear nothing. Not anymore. Have I really heard something? A squeal? Or had it just been wishful thinking? Probably. How stupid of me to think, I have heard something. But then again, even a squeal would at least be a sign. Although, a bad sign.
Just when I start jogging on, I hear another scream – this time more forceful. This time really there. Something not even my wishful thinking was powerful to make up. This is real. I try to orientate myself, figuring out from which direction the scream had come … and trying to shove aside the sickening feeling again that's rearing its nasty head with much more force. Screaming is a bad sign. That's the worst scenario I pictured. I really can't make out any words, but I don't need to. The sound is enough – the screams of panic and horror are by far enough and I am not sure, if I will be able to forget those for a long time.
I dash forward, not caring about how inaccessible the languet seems. I jump into the water, cross a few big rocks and head up a small hill, covered in large trees, blocking my view. I hope to get a better look when I'll be on the top. All I can think of right now is the scream … and that it might be Lily Brenner's. As I reach the top, another sinuosity lies before me, rapidly bubbling along – but no sign of Lily, "Damn it!" I shout, trying to reign in my breath.
Just then, I see a head bursting through the brown surface, paddling with her arms, desperately gasping for air, and submerging in the process.
"Brenner!" I hear myself yelling, before I rush down the hill, not caring, if roots block my way. All I can think about, all I can really focus on, is her … and how her head suddenly disappears from my view again, "BRENNER!" I shout louder, as if the volume could bring her back up.
It seems the current is on my side, though. With the last strength and breath she has left, its taking her closer to me. But nonetheless, I jump into the river, dash forward until I am soaked to the shoulders, just to grab her. The feeling of having her between my fingers, of having a grip on her, makes me sigh in relief, "I got you!"
She's coughing, still swallowing and spitting out water at the same time. Her complexion is pale, her lips are blue, and I can feel her weakness, as she sinks into the support of my arms. Relying on me to get her out of the water. I am not sure, if she would have made it out of the water herself. She's more than exhausted and as I see her closing her eyes, I am afraid she's passing out. But I should know better. This is Lily. "Come on," I say to her, feeling relieved that my knack hadn't let me down. What if hadn't gone looking for her? What if I hadn't been here in time? I shudder at the thought of those possibilities.
Her breathing is laboured, as I pull her back to the waterfront. I am doing it more forcefully than I should be, maybe. But I do it more for myself than I am doing it for her – I need to calm down, too. I need her to be safe and out of this river. As soon as she finds her footing, I can feel her starting to walk on her own – wobbly, though. And suddenly I am surprised, where she still finds that much energy and force. As I want her to sit down, she strongly pushes against me, somehow not wanting to get rescued. Her frantic look goes back to the river and I am not even sure she realises that I just saved her … and that it's me holding her steady right now. She pulls back towards the river.
"He can't swim!" She coughs out, fighting me even more.
My grip on her arms tightens painfully, as she suddenly slumps down, with her legs giving up, "It's okay, it's okay, you don't …" The sheer exhaustion is visible on her face, but she doesn't let me finish and it becomes harder to hold her. I fall down to my knees, as she tries to break free. The banks are muddy and I slip, pulling her down with me.
"There was no one else to go but me!" She shrieks in a high-pitched voice.
I can hear that she's not even getting enough air to breathe, let alone to talk. "What happened, what happened?" I call to make her tell me.
Her arm shoots up and points towards the river, before she starts struggling again, "There's a kid in the water!"
For the first time, my eyes leave her, and I take a look at the river. The rapids down here are vicious, strong, and possibly deep with underlying currents. But I can't make out a kid – nowhere.
"He's only 16 – he can't swim!"
Her efforts to fight me and her lack of energy cause her to fall back against my chest, only to try and get up yet again, "Brenner!" I try, but to no avail. She's not even looking at me, "Brenner! It's okay!"
"Someone has to go after him!" She screams.
And the sound of her voice pains me – she's panicking. I feel her getting weaker. Her pushes and pulls become less forceful, and a small sob escapes her throat, as one of my grabs on her arms pulls her towards me.
"I wasn't strong enough to save him," she sobs and falls against my chest, a few tears escaping her eyes, but not visible on her wet skin.
"I am gonna radio for rescue, okay? But look at the river, look at the river!" I order and reach for her head with my left arm, cradling it in my hand. For the first time, this seems to cause a reaction. She's keeping still, as if she has frozen in place. Just panting and desperately sucking in air, while staring helplessly at the river in front of her, "He's gone." I feel her shudder beneath my hands, "Okay? I am sorry." Her eyes never leave the river while she tries to regain her breathing. "He's gone," I repeat again and start to carefully knead her arm, while stroking her wet hair out of instinct.
From the helpless look in her eyes and the pained expression on her face, as she searches for signs of the kid in the river, I know that her horror has just started.
That's it for now. Hope you liked it - I loved those scenes in the episode.
Please excuse any grammar, vocab, comma, and spelling mistakes.
Take care, K.