Disclaimer: Not mine. I wish I had something to do with that amazing episode last night. Left me so emotionally shaken.

Spoilers: 4x17: Priority of Life

He's tuned out everything, everyone. The voices of his teammates are a faint buzz. All there is his breathing, loud within the mask, and he thinks about one of the few things he's been able to say to Jules over the headset. It's not what he wanted to say, but it's all he could risk, knowing everyone is listening, every word monitored. No one can begrudge him his words. After all, he'd give any of his teammates in this situation the same advice although without the emotional thoughts behind them.

"Sniper breathing, okay? Slow it down and hold." I'm here. "It will lower your heart rate and you'll lose less blood." We need more time. "We're coming right in and we'll get you soon, okay?" I'm not leaving you.

His breathes are still echoing in the suit. So much for sniper breathing. He should take his own advice.

Every step is labored, slow and deliberate. He should be moving quicker, but he just can't. He knows that the faster he gets to the other woman and gets her into the decontamination shower, the faster the next pair can go, if they can. Time is running out. And yet he takes the time he can to just be there with her because there's that fear that if she doesn't make it out of this, this could be one of the last times he's near her. She has to know he's there.

And yet he has to make sure he gets to the other woman; he can't make a mistake in this. She's watching him carefully and it takes everything in him to tear his eyes away from Jules, lying on the ground surrounded by her own blood. It's too much like when she got shot, but this time he can't even run to her side, can't protect her in the minimal way he was able to last time. He just wants to pick her up, get her away from this disaster, and get her help.

That's what he wants. But he knows what he has to do and unfortunately there's a big difference between what he wants to do and what he's obligated to do.

It's what they promised one another that they would do when they started this relationship again. They wanted the job but they wanted each other just as much and they knew the risks being together would bring. The priority of life code is what prevents couples within teams but what they have overcame the hesitation brought on by it. Like they'd said, it just wasn't going away. They'd talked about being careful, about following the rules. They couldn't give anyone a reason to doubt their seriousness about what they do. So they did the job day in and day out, didn't treat one another any differently from anyone else, didn't cross any lines, and thankfully neither of them had been put in the situation where they had to choose. Until today.

Her eyes confirm what he already knows. They're still on the job: civilians come first, then officers. Knowing he's done what she'd want doesn't make it any easier though. Leaving her behind is one of the hardest things he's had to do and he risks a glance back as he walks towards the decontamination room. To see her lying there alone breaks his heart. This situation is worse than when she was shot. He can't do anything for her now, as he watches her from inside the decontamination shower. He wasn't even given a choice about who to help; along with their job comes obligations. It's what she wants him to do, but it will haunt him if anything happens to her.

He can't stop watching her, even as the water starts. She doesn't blame him. She'd actually be happy with his choice, knowing they stuck to their word, both to one another and to Greg. Remained professional in the face of it all. His eyes are drawn to her, scared of losing sight of her. Scared of losing her in general. The risks are so high and he knows she's just as terrified as she talks to Greg. Apologizing in her own way. It reminds him vaguely of Lew, right before he made his choice, reassuring Spike before he took that step. It's a reminder of how easily they can lose one another with this job.

He methodically does his job once he gets out of the decontamination shower. He hands the woman over to be treated and then he can't help himself once again. He turns back to the glass. He's helpless now, done all he can in the situation, and the terror rushes back as his eyes rest on her form once again.

Two glass doors separate them. If this is the way it ends, he doesn't want to remember her lying like this, scared and practically alone. He wants to remember her as she is in the morning when he wakes up before her. It's one of the few times he sees her still. Hair fanned across the pillow, hint of a smile on her face. It's brief moments that he has that are like normal couples. He can glimpse down at her hand, imagine his ring on her finger, or picture the swell of her belly, his child inside. Then she'll wake up and either smile at the adoring look on his face or laugh at the fact that he's just watching her. He doesn't want to remember her lying on the floor, gasping as she grasps her arm to try to stop or at least slow down the blood flowing out of her. Yet he can't turn away and lose the only connection he has between them.

There's only one glass door now as she finally escapes the anthrax-filled room and still he needs her closer. Rationally, he knew how much pain she was in but it strikes closer to home now as she's barely a foot away from him, only the glass barrier between them. She's leaning on a complete stranger and that's how he knows. She prides herself on her strength, on her ability to hold her own and not rely on others, so for her to sink into the arms of the doctor holding her up, it's bad.

Her little gasp of pain stabs him as he watches her powerlessly, waiting for that lock to beep and let him pull her out of there. She seems so fragile, close to collapsing as she rests against a wall, waiting to be taken out. When the beep sounds, he's quick to grab her and he just doesn't want to let her go again. It frightens him just how weak she seems as he holds her up, ushering her to the gurney. She's on the verge of being listless and it's another reminder of how close a call that was. But her eyes remain on his and that reassures him, if only a little.

His emotions begin to overwhelm him. He's barely been able to maintain his cool and it's even more difficult now. Fear, at seeing her fly through the air, a cruel poke at the fact that she's merely human. Beneath that tough SRU exterior, she's just as vulnerable as anybody else. Panic, when she didn't respond to his numerous calls and she wasn't moving. Relief, that she made it out just in time. That they still have time. But that time is so precious, especially with the careers they've chosen.

With a glance behind him, a brief moment of hesitation, he takes out his comm. He's already risked it all at this point; there's nothing left for him to lose. They were seconds away from reaching that point of no return: when he would have lost her and along with that loss, any future he's ever imagined. Nothing else is comparable to that.

He didn't have any choices today. But he has one now: to keep quiet and risk something like this happen again and having her never know, or to finally make it clear how serious he is about them.

"I love you."

A/N: Muse took hold again and wouldn't let go. Hopefully I do the scene justice (although with how amazing it was, I highly doubt I did). Hope you enjoyed it and as always, please review, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this/Jam/the episode/Flashpoint in general :)