"I'm not so sure about this Steve, what if it doesn't work?" Amanda just wasn't convinced, "It could leave Jesse feeling even guiltier than he already does." She turned to her wiser friend, "What do you think Mark?"
He gave a heavy sigh, "Honestly, if it doesn't work, I can't see it making that much of a difference anyway," It was the truth, and it pained him, "I think this is the best option we've got."
"Amanda, this will work," The Lieutenant seemed so sure of himself, and for the most part he was; in fact, he didn't know why he hadn't come up with it in the first place, after all, to anyone who knew their friend, this seemed like such an obvious way to 'punish' him, "and if it doesn't, then I take full responsibility."
She studied her friends for a while; Steve was so convinced it would work, and if Mark thought it was their best option, then it probably was, "OK, I'll do it."
Amanda approached Jesse's room reluctantly, knowing full well that once she entered, Mark and Steve would be eavesdropping from outside. Taking a deep breath she opened the door; it was showtime.
"Hey Honey, how are you feeling?"
"Better than before."
"That's good." She gave a half-hearted attempt at a smile.
Jesse frowned in concern, "What's wrong?"
She took a seat at the edge of his bed, "You know, right now the most important thing is that you get better."
Jesse didn't like the way she avoided the question, and there was no way he was going to let it drop, "Amanda."
With a sigh, she 'gave in', "I've just, been thinking a lot lately, about everything that's happened over this past week...and the fact that you feel responsible for Harriette James' death."
"I've already been through this with Steve," The young Doctor spoke softly, being careful not to be the cause of another 'heated discussion' with one of his friends, "nothing you say is gonna make me feel any less to blame."
"It's not that," She turned away, pausing for a moment before continuing, "If you really are to blame...then that means I must be too."
The young Doctor stared at her in sheer confusion; what possible reason would Amanda have for connecting herself with the little girls death? He just had no idea where she was coming from, "How?"
"Isn't it obvious?" She started, "I was the one who told you to go home in the first place," Her voice started to crack, "Don't you see, If I'd just let you stay, like you wanted to, none of this would have happened." She buried her head in her hands, "If anyone should be punished, it should be me."
"Amanda no..." Jesse couldn't stand the fact that his friend felt responsible, when he knew she wasn't, "How can any of this be your fault?" He sat up and put his hand on her shoulder, "You weren't even there."
"What difference does that make?" Amanda challenged as she turned to face him, "You weren't there when the IV's were tampered with, yet you still blame yourself for Harriette's death."
He took his hand off her shoulder, and looked down at his bedclothes, "That's...different."
"I..." He started to answer the question, but then realised he couldn't.
"Honey, can you really have it both ways?" When he didn't reply, she continued, "Surely the same must go for both of us, right?"
After listening to everything she'd just said, Jesse could see now that his friends had been right all along; he'd known instantly that Amanda blaming herself for something she had no control over made no sense, and now he realised blaming himself didn't either. However, the young Doctor had become so accustomed to feelings of self-loathing and guilt, it would be hard to just let those feelings go.
It had been so long since Jesse had said anything, Amanda was beginning to worry that her initial doubts had been right; studying her friend, she tried to pick out any tell-tale signs that would give her a clue as to what was going on inside his mind, but she couldn't find any.
Jesse eventually broke the silence, whispering a heart-felt, "Thank you."
After Jesse's conversation with Amanda the previous day, his friends had noticed a change for the better in him, although Mark, Steve and Amanda all knew it would take time for his emotional wounds to heal. Despite now knowing that the young girls death was not his fault, Jesse still couldn't shake the feeling of guilt; he knew there was still something he needed to do before he could let the guilt go, but the problem was, he didn't know what.
Whilst giving Jesse one last check over before releasing him, Mark told the young Doctor of an idea he had, of getting Tringdle to admit to the murders. He hoped that tying-up that loose end would alleviate his friends guilt.
"I'm not sure Mark..." Usually the young Doctor would jump at the chance to help, but he needed time to readjust, "I just don't feel ready yet."
Mark couldn't help but feel a little disappointed, but he wasn't going to push his friend in to anything he didn't want to do.
"Have you considered the possibility that the guilt you feel may be due to a different matter?" Amanda looked towards the Nurses Station, "Perhaps if you just talk to her..."
Jesse followed Amanda's gaze, "I hadn't thought of that."
"OK, I think that's everything," Mark smiled once he was satisfied that Jesse would be OK, "are you sure you don't want to stay at the Beach House a while longer?"
"I'm sure...but thanks for the offer."
"Well, at least you can drive yourself home this time." Steve smirked as he handed Jesse's car keys over.
"Very funny." Jesse rolled his eyes as he retrieved the keys; then braced himself for what was to come, "Well, wish me luck..."
As the young Doctor made his way over to the Nurses Station, he could feel every single sinister stare burn a hole right through him. The Nurses all hated him, he knew it.
"Excuse me, Nurse Bernard..." He couldn't keep the nerves out of his voice.
She peered over the computer she was working at, "Yes Doctor Travis?"
"Yesterday...what I said, about me being a Doctor and you being a Nurse. I didn't mean to...I mean, I really respect what you Nurses do, and..." Jesse could tell from her face that he was rambling, "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry." He lowered his head, "Although, I would understand if you and the other Nurses find it too hard to forgive me."
"Why would the other Nurses even need to forgive you?" She asked in confusion, "There was only the two of us there."
Jesse looked up in shock, "You mean you didn't tell them?"
"Dr Travis, I was working as a Nurse long before you started your Intern-ship at Community General, and I know by now that Doctors make terrible patients," Nurse Bernard replied dismissively, "If us Nurses were to take offense every time a Doctor was admitted, Doctors and Nurses would be forever at war." She gave him a kind smile, "Trust me, there's no apology necessary."
When talking to Nurse Bernard didn't help relieve his guilt, Jesse decided that another apology was in order. Steve watched from his car, as his friend knelt down in front of Harriette James' grave. The young Doctor hadn't even give getting back behind the wheel a thought, until he got into his own car, when the images of crashing in to the young girl bombarded his mind; he was sure he'd never be able to drive again.
"I still can't believe she's gone."
Jesse jumped at the females voice, "Sorry," He stood up, "I should go."
"Don't...Please," She put her hand on his arm, then moved it away when he looked at it, "I'd like to talk...well, apologise actually."
"Apologise?" What did Mrs James have to apologise for? The young Doctor wondered.
"Yes, for lying to the Police about what I saw," She avoided eye contact, "there was no way I could see you from where I was, and there was no way you could have avoided..." Mrs James' face was full of guilt, "Harry just ran out straight in front of you." A tear rolled down her face, "I was too busy taking a business call to watch my little girl...and now she's gone."
Jesse put his hand on her shoulder awkwardly, "Hey, this is not your fault."
She looked up at him, "It doesn't matter how many times people tell you that, or even if you know it's true...does it?" She looked at him, and in that moment he knew he'd found someone who felt the same, "The 'knowing' is one thing, but it's the believing that matters, and neither of us believe," She started to cry, "I'm the one to blame for the way you feel, and I'm so sorry about that."
"Mrs James, the only person to blame here is the killer," Jesse looked towards Steve, "my friend's a cop, they have an idea who the murderer is, and trust me, they're doing everything they can to catch him."
"I'm sure that if whoever killed my little girl gets punished, then I'll start to believe that it wasn't my fault," She suddenly grabbed Jesse's arm, "Please, they need to find whoever did this, for both our sakes."
"They'll catch him, you have my word." Jesse stayed with Mrs James a while, to make sure she was OK, before heading back to Steve and getting in to his car. As Steve was driving away, Jesse turned to him, "I've changed my mind, I'm in."
Frank Tringdle smirked, "If you had any proof 'Lieutenant', then we wouldn't be stood here having this conversation right now," The tall, bronze haired man leant against the front of his desk and folded his arms, looking and feeling very smug with himself, "so why don't you and your little friend there just run a long now, and get out of my office?"
"You can smirk all you want Tringdle, but I know you did it and I won't stop digging until you're behind bars, where you belong!" Steve sneered, "Come on Jesse, let's go." The Lieutenant started to pull his subdued friend away.
"No!" the young Doctor shouted out suddenly, pulling away from his friend and pointing at Tringdle, "He did it...you know that, and you're just gonna let him go?"
"Jess, we'll get him, you have my word."
"What part of all this is so funny Mr Tringdle?" Jesse demanded, "Is it the part were you tampered with five random IV's?" The fury was evident in the young Doctors voice, "Or the part where you killed four innocent people?"
"Nice try Dr Travis, but playing the guilt card won't work with me."
"A nine year old girl died because of you, and you're amused by it all." Jesse pulled Steve's handgun out of it's holster, before his friend even had chance to react, and pointed it at Tringdle, "You killed her, admit it!"
"Jesse, what are you doing?" Steve put his hand on his holster, and looked at the gun in his friends hand.
"Now, now Dr Travis, we both know you're not going to shoot me." He stood upright.
Jesse took the safety off the gun, "You take a step forward, and I swear I'll..."
"Jess come on, he's not worth it," The Lieutenant kept his voice as calm as possible, "just pass me the gun."
"He killed her, he deserves to pay!"
"He did and you're right, but this isn't the way." Steve took a step towards his friend, and held out his hand, "Now just give me the..."
"No!" Jesse screamed, turning to Steve, his finger squeezing the trigger.
Steve's face contorted in pain, and when in his shock he made another grab for the gun, the young Doctor shot him again. The smirk was wiped right off Frank Tringdle's face, as he stared down at Steve's corpse; he knew he had to get out of there.
"Steve..." Jesse gasped, as the Lieutenant lay lifelessly on the ground, with two bullet wounds to the chest, "What have I..." The young Doctor stopped suddenly, when he heard Tringdle trying to get away and pointed the gun up at him, "He was my best friend," His voice and body shook, "so just think about what I'll do to you." He stepped forward, "You were the one who murdered those patients, admit it, you killed Harriette James!"
"Harriette who?" Frank Tringdle's eyes widened in terror as Jesse started to pull the trigger, "OK, OK I confess, I did it!" He sighed in relief when Jesse relaxed his finger.
"Because Warren Bates was our biggest sponsor and Community General stole him from us." Tringdle spat, "So I got my hands on a wide selection of drugs, tampered with five of your precious Hospitals IV's, and used them to poison 5 patients, so Community General Hospital's reputation would be ruined."
"Frank Tringdle, you're under arrest for the murders of Albert Martin, Felicity Arnolds, Scott Davis, Harriette James; and for the attempted murder of Rich Nicholas..."
Mark walked in, followed by two officers, who detained a stuttering Tringdle, "But you're...I mean, he shot..."
"Anything you say or do, can, and will be used against you in a court of Law..."
As Steve continued reading him his rights, Tringdle turned to Jesse, "You used blanks."
Mark went over to Jesse, and the young Doctor passed him his wire.
"Take him away." And on Steve's command, the Officers did just that. As they led Tringdle away, Steve got up and opened his shirt to reveal a vest, "Twice?" He looked down at where the blanks hit, "Jess, you do realise that blanks hurt too, right?" The Lieutenant frowned when he saw his friend staring down at the gun, "Jesse?"
"He did it." Jesse turned to Steve, with surety in his voice, "He killed her."
Steve gently prised the gun from his friends hands, "Yeah Jess, he did."
2 Weeks later...
"Jesse, what the hell are you doing here?" Steve demanded.
Jesse immediately stopped his snooping, and looked up at the Lieutenant, smiling as innocently as possible, "Oh, hey Steve...I found these." He held up some incriminating photo's.
Steve grabbed them off him, "Where did you find these?"
"They were in the safe."
Steve raised an eyebrow, "How did you get them?"
"I broke in." The young Doctor smiled proudly, "It was pretty easy actually, I just..." He stopped when he saw the look on Steve's face, "What?"
"You do realise that without a warrant, all this evidence is worthless now, right?"
"Really." Steve gave the young Doctor a stern look, "Jess, get out of here before you destroy any more evidence."
"But Steve, I..."
The young Doctor pouted, and uttered a few words under his breath before leaving the apartment. As Steve saw Jesse getting in to his car and driving away, he smiled; his friend was back.
A/N - Thank you for reading, and for all the kind reviews.