Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to ITV1. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. The idea of the story as well as the story itself – including all possible pre- or sequels published afterwards – are mine.
Summary: Written for the just_kiss_her prompt “The hardest part of Becker's job isn't fighting dinosaurs. It's having to inform families that someone under his command has died performing a duty that he can never explain to them, because of the Official Secrets Act.” by taraljc.
Warnings: not beta-read; post episode 4.04, so spoilers
Author notes: I took the liberty to let it be someone not under his command... Hope you don't mind. :)
“Sir,” Jess carefully said, holding out the piece of paper to him. “Here’s the address you requested.”
“Hand it to Becker,” was his simple reply.
She blinked at him. “Sir, I…”
“He asked for it,” Lester told her, without looking up from his file.
She opened her mouth to say something, but reconsidered it and walked out of the office heading for the armoury.
He shouldn’t be here in the first place. He was supposed to be home already, putting up his leg and resting. And he surely shouldn’t have to make this visit.
He was leaning against the washing machine, just as he had been about half an hour ago when she’d left him. His eyes were closed, and Jess could see pain written all over his handsome face – but it didn’t seem to be the physical pain from the wound on his leg.
Wordlessly, she held the little sheet of paper out to him.
Opening his eyes, he looked into hers for a second, before taking the address from her.
“You don’t have to do this,” she finally whispered.
“I know,” Becker mumbled, staring at the address in his hands. Of course, he had to do it.
Jess sighed. She knew there was no way of talking him out of it. But maybe she could at least be there for him. He shouldn’t have to do this alone.
When he stepped into the elevator, he was surprised that she followed him. Or maybe he wasn’t. He could have expected her to accompany him – even though he was pretty sure she’d never done that before.
But then again neither had he. He was used to telling families of soldiers that their sons or husbands or fathers weren’t going to come back home. But these families were somehow prepared for it.
At least, they new the risks of being a soldier – even if they didn’t know anything about anomalies or dinosaurs.
This was different. He shouldn’t be forced to tell the parents of a fifteen-year-old girl that her daughter had died in detention.
School wasn’t a place where people died. Fifteen years wasn’t the age where people died. All this was wrong, so terribly wrong.
They had failed.
“I’m driving,” Jess offered, her voice barely brooking argument.
Becker nodded absentmindedly. He was playing the scene over and over in his head how he told the parents of a fifteen-year-old girl that their daughter had died that day.
The cover story Lester had come up with was rather simple. A crocodile had escaped from a nearby apartment had found its way into the school through the sewer system. It had attacked and killed the girl – and the teacher who tried to help her.
It sounded plausible. Besides, a crocodile was the only explanation for the wounds the girl had received. It wasn’t exactly a lie, but it wasn’t the truth, either.
Simply knowing it was a lie made Becker feel like he was betraying the parents of the little girl. He was lying to them. He knew he had to, they certainly wouldn’t believe him anyway. It still felt wrong.
After a few moments of silently standing in front of the door to the Roberts’ home, Jess took matters into her own hand and chimed.
After a few seconds a woman of the age of forty opened the door, looking at them expectantly. “Mrs. Roberts?” Becker asked.
She nodded, then frowned at them, “What can I do for you?”
“I’m Captain Becker,” he told her. “I’m with the British army. I… This is my colleague Jessica Parker. May we come in?”
Looking at them suspiciously, the woman finally led them in, leading them into the living room, where Jess and Becker sat down on a couch opposite of Mr. and Mrs. Roberts who were still looking at them expectantly.
“Ma’am,” Becker started, not really sure how to finish this sentence. “This is about your daughter Beth.”
“She’s… at school,” Mrs. Roberts said. “Saturday detention. You know, she’s a good girl. It was just… Why? What about her?”
Becker opened his mouth to explain what had happened, but closed it again. He couldn’t do this. Especially not if Mrs. Roberts kept looking at him like this… so… unknowingly.
“Mr. and Mrs. Roberts,” Jess jumped in. “We’re very sorry, but we have to tell you there was an accident at school.”
“Accident?” Mr. Roberts repeated, frowning. Becker could tell from the look on the other man’s face that he was hoping for the best – but expecting the worst.
“Apparently, a crocodile escaped from a nearby apartment,” Jess went on. “Somehow, it found its way into the school, and your daughter must have crossed its path. Her teacher, Mr. George, tried to save her, but it was too late. I’m sorry, but we have to tell you that your daughter was killed.”
There was a long moment of silence, before Mrs. Roberts frowned again, asking, “What does the military have to do with that?”
“There was a wild animal on the loose,” Jess replied. “We’re… supposed to deal with situations like this.”
“I understand,” Mrs. Roberts whispered.
Becker could see Jess’ words sinking in. And then Mrs. Roberts burst into tears.
“We’re so sorry for your loss,” Jess told her in a low voice.
“Were you… Were you there?” Mr. Roberts asked, ineffectively trying to hold back his own tears.
“I was,” Becker simply said. “But we… we were too late.”
“Is that how you… hurt your leg?” Mrs. Roberts wanted to know, pointing her head towards his crutches.
Becker nodded briefly.
“Thank you,” Mr. Roberts told him. “For coming here and telling us – and for… trying to save our girl.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t,” Becker mumbled.
For a moment, they watched the Roberts’ cry silently, holding each other.
Jess couldn’t stop the tear from escaping her own eye and rolling down her cheek. She didn’t bother wiping it away, though.
It wasn’t fair. It so wasn’t fair. They believed it was an accident. But it was just a lie. It had all been his fault, because he hadn’t been able to get there in time. Maybe if they hadn’t tried to keep all that a secret, the kids could have been prepared.
If people knew about the risks, about the dinosaurs they were facing every day… It would only cause a stampede and they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs anymore. Besides, Beth hadn’t seen the Therocephalian coming. Even if she’d known about the risks, she wouldn’t have had a chance.
Jess and Becker bowed out, not waiting for the Roberts’ to show them to the door. There was nothing they could have said or done anyway.
Becker took a deep breath and ran a hand over his face, staring outside the window of Jess’ car. Things like that simply shouldn’t happen.
He expected her to say something like she’d said earlier in the armoury; that they had saved two people after all. Of course, they had. But even if they had saved a thousand other people today, Beth Roberts would still be dead.
Instead of saying anything, Jess just took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently.
“You know, sometimes I really hate this job,” Becker whispered.
“I know,” Jess assured him. “But even if we’d never started working for the ARC, even if we didn’t know about all this, the anomaly would still have opened in that school today and Beth would still be dead. Moreover, if you hadn’t been there, Darren and Steve would be dead as well.”
Becker squeezed her hand, but still refused to look at her. “What are we good for if we can’t keep people safe?”
“Of course, you can,” Jess objected. “You’re making the world safer every day. If no one took care of the anomalies and the creatures what do you think how many of the people you saved already would be dead by now?! All of them. But like I said, you can’t save everyone?”
“Why not?” he simply asked.
Yeah, why not?
Jess sighed, letting her eyes wander back to the Roberts’ house.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I honestly don’t know.”