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The Science of the Heart

Chapter Text

Jack sped along the road, feeling completely at odds with the world, Seth and Fargo had been at it again, fighting over spiders. Fucking spiders for God's sake. Seth was working on stronger-than-kevlar body armor from spider silk and apparently, Fargo had woken up with twenty-inch-across spiders filling his bedroom. His retribution had been to let all of the spiders out of their enclosures. The investigation had been okay until one of the massive spiders had flattened Jack and bitten his chest. Before Seth had managed to scramble to the workbench and grab the anti-venom, Jack had swollen all over, apparently hyper-allergic to giant black widows.

Seth had managed to save him, but his chest still hurt where the bites were. Fargo was in the cell at the Sheriff's Office for reckless endangerment. Jack had been unable to charge Seth with the same since he turned out to be working on some DoD project to improve body armor for law enforcement. He had yelled to Jo he was taking the day off, jumped in his Jeep, and burned rubber out of town.

Three-and-a-half-hours out of town, he was cruising past the side of a partially empty reservoir, enjoying the thundering of the wind in his ears through the open windows. It drowned out his thoughts and allowed him to relax. Everything had been okay the first couple of weeks on the job, but when Nobel Laureate Dr. Nathan Stark, PhD, PhD, PhD had shown up, shit hit the fan, and fast. There had been cataclysmic, apocalyptic, and town-destroying things almost once a month since he had arrived. He shook his head, letting his eyes drift.

Then he saw it.

Long skid marks ran down the lane in front of him before abruptly turning right, plunging into a tangled mess of broken saplings and sheets of bark that had been stripped off the hemlocks. The bare, white-green patches of cambium told him the accident was recent. He slammed on the brake, flipped the hazards on, and jumped from the car.

Jack had the scene analyzed in less than a second. Two side-view mirrors lay tangled in the branches, as did half a licence plate and a scattering of window glass. He ran through the mess following two deep furrows in the steep bank. Four feet from the water's edge, the line of a spoiler stood proud of the lake water by two inches. Bubbles broke the surface a few feet beyond that.

He spun and ran back to the Jeep and threw himself across the center console, fishing in the glove box for his rescue hammer. His fingers finally wrapped around the orange plastic and he wrenched it free. The gun, taser, and club came out of his belt and bounced around the compartment as Jack raced to the shore. He launched himself into the water and kicked out to the spoiler.

Filling his lungs, he dove under the surface of the water, searching for the window in the half murky water. He located the door handle just below a reddish patch of water and wrenched on it. It was locked. Or jammed.

He squinted his eyes against the silt and peered into the window. The form of a man hung limply in the water. Jack tightened his grip on the hammer and crushed in the window.

The reddish water from inside the car swirled out as Jack reached in with the hammer. He snagged the seat belt with the blade on the back of the hammer and yanked, cutting the man free. Lungs burning, he kicked to the surface and took a deep breath before diving back down. He leaned in through the window and looped his arms around the man's torso. It was a fight to get the large man out of the small window and more of a struggle to get his waterlogged body to the surface. Jack had to launch himself off of the roof of the car to get their doubled weight out of the water.

It was only when he was on the bank that he realized who he had just rescued. It was Nathan Stark.

A huge gash ran the breadth of his forehead and oozed nearly black blood. His skin was a pale blue and his features hung slack. Jack pressed his fingers to Nathan's throat and swore at the lack of pulse.

CPR then. He half-lifted Nathan and dragged him to the narrow shoulder of the road next to the Jeep and sat him down on the asphalt. He sat, too, Nathan drawn to his chest and began to squeeze the water from the man's lungs with the Heimlich maneuver. The water spurted out of his mouth as Jack pulled his fists up into Nathan's diaphragm. Eventually, no more water came from the man's mouth, so Jack lay him on his back and began compressions.

Ten compressions and he checked Nathan's pulse. Nothing.

Ten more; still nothing.

Ten. Nothing.

He could feel ribs beginning to creak under his hands.

Ten. Nothing

Ten. Yes!

The pulse was weak and getting stronger. Now to get him breathing. Five compressions then a breath, until he regained a normal breathing pattern.

One two three four five. Breath.

He stopped for a moment, the feeling of a beard scratching his face took his breath away. The last time- No. He had to get Nathan breathing. He could not think about his past.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four-

CRACK! Some of Nathan's ribs snapped under the pressure of the compressions.

-five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

A car coming from the opposite direction pulled up and a woman rolled down her window.

"Do you need me to call 911?"

"Yes!" shouted Jack. The woman pulled out her phone.

"Wait!" he amended, "Don't call 911. Call 867-5309. Tell Henry that you are calling for Jack, he needs help."

One two three four five. Breath.

"Tell him Nathan drove his car into a lake. He will probably have you stay on the line for a moment to figure out where we are. He'll tell you when you can hang up."

One two three four five. Breath.

"Is there anything I can do?"

One two three four five. Breath.

"Just make the call."

Distantly, he could hear the woman making the call and talking to Henry. He kept up his rhythm.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three four five. Breath.

One two three-

Nathan coughed violently, his eyes flickering open.

"Yes! Yes!" came the woman's voice, "He just started breathing again! His eyes are open!"

She paused, then asked, "He's asking if you can bring him back in your Jeep."

Nathan looked dazed.

Jack bent and spoke quietly to Nathan, "Can you hear me?"

Nathan blinked again, his eyes struggling to focus on Jack.

"Henry needs to know if I can drive you back to Eureka. Can I move you?"

Nathan's eyes seemed to clear. "No." His voice sounded odd, like there was still water in his chest.

"I'm sorry about your ribs. Does anything else hurt? Or feel broken? Can you move your feet or toes?"

Nathan demonstrated his ability to move his feet and hands.

"Neck strained," he gurgled, "Head ache. Chest hurts." He coughed again. Blood flecked his lips.

"How well can you breathe?" asked Jack.

Nathan shook his head. "Drowning."

Jack nodded. "Okay." He looked up at the woman. "Tell him that I think he has a collapsed lung. I have to respirate him. He can't move." Looking back down at Nathan he explained, "I have to breathe for you. Can't have you dying. You okay with it?"

Nathan nodded, not looking totally thrilled by the idea. He shivered.

A sudden thought flashed into Jack's mind.

"What's the temperature?" he called to the woman.

"What? Oh! fifty-eight!"


He glanced down at Nathan and saw the fright in his face.

"I have to start breathing for you. I'm going to pinch your nose shut and-"

"I know CPR."

"Oh," Jack was surprised, "Okay."

More hesitant than he should have been, Jack held Nathan's nose shut, opened his mouth, filled his own lungs, and exhaled deeply into Nathan's airways. He did this two, three more times then straightened.

"I'm worried you might start getting hypothermic. It's too cold for you to be in wet clothes like this."

He bent and blew air into Nathan's lungs again.

"I have a blanket in my Jeep. I need to take your clothes off and dry you."


"I know. I'll leave you your... privacy. But I need to take everything else. I'll make sure you get your air. Don't worry."

He laid Nathan's head back down gently and stood.

"What are you doing?" The woman in the car seemed concerned.

"Getting a blanket," Jack called back, "He might get hypothermia- that would be very bad."

Jack climbed onto the running board and pulled three thick fleece blankets from the back seat. He walked back to Nathan and squatted down beside him. Gently he began unbuttoning Nathan's silk shirt. He slid that off after undoing the cufflinks at his wrists. He lifted Nathan's torso and pulled a blanket under him before tugging off his undershirt.

He returned to Nathan's head and gave him air three times.

Scooting back to Nathan's waist, he gingerly began to undo his belt and fly, keeping his fingers clear from anywhere that might cause... problems.

Looking up, he noticed Nathan's face twisted in pain and began to chatter, to try and keep him distracted.

"Your car's wrecked."

Nathan's eyes cracked open, staring at him.

"Too bad, it was quite nice. The side views are in the debris behind me. So's half of your license plate."

He glanced down as he began to pull off Nathan's slacks and felt heat prickle across his collar bones. God damnit! Why did those feelings have to surface now? He squashed everything down, telling his brain to screw off. He had a job to do.

Lifting Nathan's hips, he slid the blanket all the way underneath the other man's body.

"What were you doing all the way out here anyway? I left because Fargo nearly got me killed again with the spider-armor thing."

"," he rasped, then shot Jack an angry look like he should know something.

It took him a moment, but he understood what Nathan's glare meant.

"Sorry. I shouldn't ask questions."

He got an eye roll in response.

"Yeah, well, nobody said I was a genius."

Nathan laughed, then started choking.

Jack was back up at Nathan's head, tipping his head back to clear his airway.

"Shhhh..." When the coughing didn't subside, he began to rub circles on Nathan's chest, like he had done for Zoe when she was little and sick.

"I'm sorry. Maybe I should just stop talking."

When the coughing stopped, he bent, gave Nathan more air and began to tuck the blanket around him. Jack wrapped the other two blankets around Nathan, swaddling him against the cold air.

"Your friend says he has this location and he's on his way with the medics. I really need to pick my daughter up from school. Is there anything else you might need?" the woman asked.

"Are you warm enough?" Jack asked Nathan.

The man nodded.

"No," Jack called back to her, "Thank you so much. You're a life saver."

She nodded, put her car back into drive, and pulled away slowly.

Jack spoke quickly, "I had been driving for three and a half hours when I found you. It could be that long. Knowing Eureka and knowing Henry, it might be less. I will keep you alive."

Nathan locked eyes with him, gaze filled with uncharacteristic trust and fear.

"You will make it. I promise."

And then, Jack bent, becoming Nathan's lungs and fighting for his life.


Jack wasn't sure how long he had been breathing for Nathan, but the cramping in the leg he had thrown over Nathan's to prevent it from cramping and the loss of feeling in his right hand, the thumb of which he had on Nathan's chin to hold his mouth open, told him it had been a long while. Nathan was actually the reason his arm was asleep. At one point, his body had begun to refuse the forced inflation of the lungs and another coughing spasm started deep within Nathan's body. It was the little flecks of blood thrown onto Nathan's lips by the coughs that had twisted his face in terror and set his large hand in a painfully tight grip around Jack's bicep. Nathan's hand had loosened, but he still held on.

Jack would rise once every forty or so breaths to fill his own lungs and it surprised him to find more often than not, Nathan's eyes locked on his, full of trust.

No cars had passed since the woman who had called Henry had left, so the sound of tires approaching from the direction he had arrived, startled Jack. He looked up and sighed in relief when he saw the big, Eureka-fied ambulance with Henry behind the wheel pull to a stop only a few yards away.

"Stark," he leaned down, and the man's eyes opened slightly, "Henry's here in an ambulance. Real help is here. I told you you wouldn't die."

A hand touched his shoulder and he jumped. Turning, he was surprised to see Henry and an entire medical team standing behind him with a gurney. How had they snuck up on him?

"Great job, Jack," said Henry, smiling, "You can rest now."

Jack nodded, then looked down at Nathan, who slowly released his grip on Jack's arm.

Henry helped Jack stumble into a standing position without stepping on Nathan, as a medic fitted an oxygen mask to Nathan's mouth and nose. Another one gathered the clothes which were heaped along one side of Nathan.

Jack was vaguely aware of himself answering a question that Henry had asked, but he was unsure of either the question or his own answer.

At Henry's concerned look he managed to say, "I'm cold and very tired Henry, that's all."


He was sitting in the back of the ambulance, eyes locked again with Nathan, who probably would have been holding his arm again if he hadn't been strapped down.

How had he gotten here?


Jack opened his eyes feeling achy, but warm and no longer tired.

"When is?" he mumbled incoherently.

Henry's chuckle roused him further. "You finally understand Eureka! We're in the infirmary, about six hours after we picked you up. You passed out in the ambulance. You were suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia."


"It's amazing what you did Jack. He does have a collapsed lung, like you thought, as well as two broken and three cracked ribs, from CPR, I suppose? And a fractured ankle along with minor lacerations and bruising.

"It's just-" his voice sounded awed. "Jack, you realize you not only restarted his heart, but kept a man in as unstable a state as possible alive for nearly four hours. Nobody else could have done that. Even without the hypothermia, exhaustion, and lingering effects of the Latrodectus venom, anybody else would have been hard pressed to do what you did."

"So he's okay?"

Henry nodded. "He will be. He's recovering from surgery right now. The bones are set and mending and he'll be breathing without need of oxygen in two or three days when we can release him."

Jack nodded. His mind skipped tracks, now that he knew nobody was in immediate danger. "Did anyone pick Zoë up from school, or tell her?"

"Yes, Allison picked her up from school as soon as I headed out with the medical team. She offered her a place to stay tonight, but she insisted on staying near you. She's in the waiting room, if you like to go meet her."

"Definitely." Jack swung out of bed, half noticing that he was no longer wearing his soaking uniform and walked quickly into the waiting room.

Zoë was asleep, curled into a large chair. Her face was pinched with worry and she kept twitching.

Jack knelt beside her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Zoë, Zo, honey, wake up."

She blinked groggily and stared at him.


She threw her arms around him and hugged him hard.

"Dad, I was so worried when Allison told me. What happened?"

"I was at a call this morning about Fargo and Seth, and got bitten by a giant spider. I was mad, so I went for a drive. A while out, I spotted skid marks heading off the side of the road into a lake. There was the spoiler of a sports car in the water. I dove in to rescue whoever it was. It wasn't until I was on shore that I realized it was Stark I had rescued. His heart had stopped, so I did CPR until he resuscitated. He had a collapsed lung, so I did mouth to mouth on him until Henry showed up. I passed out in the ambulance."

"How did Henry know where you were?"

"A woman drove by and asked if she could help. I had her call him. I jumped in the lake with my phone in my pocket."

She hugged him again. "I was just so worried when I heard what had happened. I'm glad you're okay."

The click-click of heels made Jack turn. Allison stood, looking exuberant, at the door.

"Jack!" She rushed forward and wrapped her arms around him.

"Thank you," she said into his ear, "Thank you for saving Nathan."

"No problem," he replied, smiling, "I'd do it again."

He would.

Maybe not for Allison, though.

Henry entered the waiting room and placed his hand on Allison's shoulder, drawing her away from Jack.

"Nathan's awake," he said to the pair.


"He wants to see you, Jack."

Jack frowned. That was odd. It was obvious that something remained between Stark and Allison. Why wouldn't he want to see her first?


Henry shrugged. "He wouldn't say. Just that he wanted to see you."

"Okay." He followed Henry through the door and recovery room to a private post-op.