I've been writing this for a couple of weeks, and it just keep growing and growing and growing. I'm going to post it over three parts. Part two is almost done, and part three is started, so I'm hoping to get it all posted today, and if not today definitely tomorrow.
Concussion Part One
Jess hated it when one of the team was out by themselves. It didn't happen too often, because they all knew that seemingly manageable situations could become dangerous very quickly. This, right now, was a case in point.
Of course, Becker wasn't technically alone – he had two of his men with him. But he was by himself at the moment, stalking through a warehouse, after a pair of raptors. Luckily, since it was already 10pm, the warehouse staff was all gone for the day – as were most of the ARC personnel. Jess sat alone in the hub, trying to keep an eye on about eight different feeds.
The rest of the team were across town cleaning up another anomaly. A small herd of diictodons had come through, cute but causing havoc, and Abby had got extremely excited at the thought of being able to return Sid and Nancy to their own time and their own kind. She and Connor had rushed back to the ARC to collect them, leaving the team depleted, which meant that when the other anomaly opened Becker had headed off with just a couple of his men.
And, of course, it had to be raptors. It always seemed to be raptors.
But none of that was important. What was important was this moment, right now, as Jess watched everything go horribly wrong. Because the anomaly closed and while his men dealt with one of the raptors, Becker dealt with the other one, which had climbed its way to the top of the warehouse stairs and along the balcony that wrapped round the whole place. The warehouse floor had dividing walls that didn't stretch to the ceiling, and Jess tracked Becker through the CCTV cameras mounted to the walls as he passed through the doors, keeping an eye on the raptor above him. She didn't realise what the raptor was going to do until it did it so she didn't have time to warn Becker. She could only watch as it jumped off the balcony and landed on top of a stack of crates.
The stack of crates obviously wasn't stacked very well, though, because a second later they came crashing down under the raptor that started an avalanche of wood and metal. An avalanche that headed straight for Becker.
"BECKER!" She screamed, jumping up out of her chair. There was nothing she could do – she couldn't even really see the damage until the avalanche stopped.
The crates had been stacked high, higher than the dividing walls, and she could see now that those had been just board and plaster. The dust cleared, and Jess saw that the crates had crashed through at least two dividing walls, cutting off Forster and Bryant – a glance told Jess that they were both okay, just trapped. And luckily they had already managed to bring down their raptor.
At first, Jess couldn't even see him. The wall the CCTV camera was mounted on had survived, thank goodness, so she still had the feed at least. She enlarged the screen showing the CCTV feed and finally spotted him in the corner. He wasn't pinned under the crates but he was sprawled out on the floor, and it only took her a moment to see that he had a head injury. He looked like he was out cold.
Fear gripped Jess, and she fell back into her chair, calling up maps and medic team information.
"Jess what's happened?" Matt demanded urgently over the comms.
"There's been an accident, Becker's injured," Jess said. "Looks like a head wound, he's unconscious."
Jess shook her head to clear the thought it might be worse – she refused to even think it.
"Jess, we're trapped," Bryant said suddenly. She looked back at the CCTV image she had of the two of them – Forster was trying to find a way through the tumble of crates between them and their Captain.
"I know, sit tight – help is on its way," Jess told him. Bryant nodded but then went to join Forster in trying to find a way through – she'd expect nothing less.
Jess tapped in commands to the ADD and sent messages to mobilise a recovery team and a medical team, talking to Matt as she did so. "There are some crates in front of the doorway to Becker's room, but I think you'd be able to get in there," she said.
"Alright, Emily and I are on our way to the warehouse," Matt said. "Abby and Connor are back, they can handle things here."
At that moment Becker started to stir, and Jess sagged with relief. "He's waking up," she informed the others. "Becker? Can you hear me?"
Becker groaned and rolled onto his side, his hand coming up to clutch at his head.
"Becker, try not to move, okay?" Jess said. "Bryant and Forster are okay, but they're trapped, and teams are on the way to recover all of you."
Becker's eyes were open, and he propped himself up on his elbow, blinking around the room. He cleared his throat. "Stupid prehistoric lizard," he grumbled.
Jess grinned. "Can you see it?"
Becker nodded slightly. "Yeah, it's pinned under the crates," he said. He was looking behind the crates, where Jess couldn't see, so she assumed that's where it was.
"Is it dead?"
Becker raised his EMD and fired three shots in quick succession. "Probably," he said. He shifted until he was in a sitting position, wincing the entire time.
"Becker, stay still," Jess said firmly. "You've taken a serious knock to the head."
"I'm fine," he said, stubbornly struggling to his feet.
"I think you should listen to her, Sir," Bryant chipped in.
"Seconded," Matt said. "Just sit still and wait for us to get there."
"Yes, try not to move," Emily said.
"This is Field Medic One, we are en route from ARC, E.T.A. fifteen minutes," said a new voice.
"This is Recovery One, also E.T.A. fifteen minutes," said another.
Becker was standing now, swaying a little, and he winced at the clamour of voices over the radio. He reached up and pressed the little button to turn his earpiece off.
Jess sighed. "Roger that both of you," she said. "Just get there as quickly as you can. Matt, Becker's turned off his radio – I'm going to have patch him back in but I'm going to keep us on a private channel – I think there are too many voices for him. Signal me if you guys encounter any problems en route."
"Will do," Matt responded. "Listen Jess – don't let him go to sleep."
Jess squared her shoulders. "I won't."
She severed her radio connection to the teams in the field and typed in the override command to Becker's earpiece, turning it back on. She pressed another series of keys on her keyboard and opened up a private comms link between her and Becker.
She took a deep breath and fixed her eyes on the CCTV image. He was still standing but hadn't taken more than a couple of steps, and had one hand on the wall for support. "Becker? Becker it's Jess, can you hear me?"
Becker nodded, and then very quickly stopped, his free hand going to his head. Jess winced.
"Yes. What's going on?" He asked. His voice was faint, far fainter than it should be, and worse than a second ago. Jess took a deep breath.
"The others are on their way, they won't be long," she said. "I've got us on a private comms channel, so it should be less noisy for you."
"Okay." Becker leant back against the wall. "I think you were right about staying still."
"I'm always right," Jess joked lightly, but he didn't respond, and a moment later she watched in horror as he slid slowly down until he was sitting on the floor. He tilted his head back against the wall and shut his eyes.
"Becker!" Jess exclaimed.
His eyes flew open at her voice. "What?" He sounded pretty disgruntled.
Jess let out a relieved breath. "Don't close your eyes," she said firmly.
Becker rolled his head to one side, but his eyes remained open. "Jess..."
"Becker, you know what I'm talking about, you can't go to sleep."
"I know," Becker said. He put his head back again and shut his eyes. "I won't..."
"BECKER!" Jess shouted. His head jerked up again.
Jess glanced at the other screen, where three red lights wending their way through a map of London's streets showed her the other teams were racing towards the warehouse, but that Matt and Emily were still five to ten minutes away... and they were the closest. She turned back to the CCTV feed, glad to see Becker's eyes were still open. Just about.
"Becker, talk to me," she said. "Tell me something."
"Anything," Jess said, casting about for a topic. "Tell me... why did you join the army?" Becker was silent, and Jess persisted. "Come on, you must remember."
"I... my Dad was in the army," Becker said eventually. "And my granddad. And my uncle. It's just what we do."
His voice was flat and getting slower with every passing second. "Did you ever want to do anything else?" She asked.
His answer was immediate, if a little quiet. "No."
"Really, nothing? Nothing else you liked doing?"
He was quiet for a few moments before answering. "I liked painting."
Jess almost forget the situation in her immediate surprise. "You wanted to be an artist?" She said. Becker didn't answer – his eyes drifted closed again. "Becker!"
His eyes opened again, though he didn't jerk awake like before. "Jess? That you?" He was slurring slightly now. Jess didn't take that as a good sign, nor the fact that he seemed to have forgotten the rest of their conversation.
She sighed. "Yeah, Becker, it's me," she said gently.
He groaned. "My head hurts," he said.
"I know. The others are on their way, and they'll be there soon," Jess said. Becker started to nod, and then raised a hand to his head, just like he had done before. Jess bit her lip for a moment. "Then they're bringing you back to the ARC, and you'll have your head seen to," she said. "Though I'm not sure there's much they can do for it..."
"You should be nice to me –I'm injured," he said. His voice was still quiet, and he was still slurring his words, but Jess breathed a sigh of relief – at least he was alert enough to catch her teasing, and to make a joke in return.
"I'm always nice to you," she replied.
"That's true," Becker replied. Then his eyes started to drift closed again.
"Becker!" Jess exclaimed. His eyes opened, and she stared at him, willing him to have the strength he needed. "You really do have to stay awake."
Jess was starting to panic a little now. "Did I ever tell you that I used to do gymnastics?" She said. It was the first thing that had come to mind.
"I was pretty good – I had a try out with team GB," Jess said in a wheedling tone. All she got back was an "mm hmm."
"Did you know I have seventy-three pairs of shoes?" Jess tried instead.
"Doesn't surprise me," Becker said.
Jess sagged in relief to have got him talking in sentences again. "Why doesn't it surprise you?" She probed.
Becker shrugged. "You always wear shoes."
Jess shook her head at the true but slightly redundant statement. "Yes I do."
"They're always really pretty."
Jess' eyebrows shot up and she couldn't help a small smirk. "You think so?" She said.
Jess frowned – she didn't like that he was back to just sounds. "I didn't realise you noticed my shoes," she prompted him.
"I always notice you," Becker said after a moment.
Jess' breath caught in her throat. Becker didn't seem to have realised he'd said anything of any significance, and she knew it was because he was so out of it that he was saying things he never usually would. "I always notice you, too," she said after a few moments.
He was back to noises again. Jess bit her lip, hesitating briefly before ploughing on. "I always notice," she repeated firmly. "When you're in the same room as me, I always know where you are without looking, just because I'm so aware of you."
Becker shook his head slightly. "Jess... Jess." He started to tilt his head back again.
"And it's not just when you're in the room," Jess said, before he could close his eyes. "Even when you're not there I think about you all the time."
His eyes were definitely open at that. "I..."
Jess swallowed, and went for broke. "And then there's the dreams."
"Dreams?" Becker blinked rapidly, his head rising slightly – she certainly had his attention.
Jess couldn't quite believe she was doing this, saying these things, but if it was working to keep Becker alert she wasn't going to stop. Besides, he probably wouldn't remember anything anyway. "Well, they're more like fantasies, really," she said.
Becker's eyebrows went up. "Fantasies...?"