Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.
If you like them, feel free to let me know about it at Jeaninehemailfirstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t, please don’t be mean.
Warnings: This story will depict relationships between women. If that bothers you, I’m sorry for your narrow-minded approach but please leave now and come back when you come out. If it is illegal for you to view this type of story due to age or location then please come back when you age or move. There will at times be somewhat graphic descriptions of medical events, nothing too graphic but not for those who faint at the mention of an IV. With that said, I hope you enjoy!
I’d like to thank Vic and Trish, the two people that encouraged me to put this out to let others decide its fate.
Also, for Sue, the reason I want to do my best is to be the woman you deserve-I’m always on call for you!
I looked at my watch and decided that I had time to make my own bread, so I skipped the bakery and headed home. After unloading the groceries, I washed up and started the bread machine on the dough cycle. I decided to make a pasta salad for dinner to keep it lighter for such a late dinner. I boiled the penne and thawed a box of carrots and peas. I chopped up some Monterey Jack cheese, halved grape tomatoes, and some leftover grilled chicken. To this, I added some par boiled broccoli. I made a light dressing with some Italian dressing seasoning, thyme vinegar, olive oil, tarragon, and a little honey to balance the acid. Once everything was mixed together I put it in the refrigerator to cool down and cleaned up the kitchen.
I decided to throw a burger on the grill for my lunch, even though it was close to three in the afternoon. I figured we would eat a late dinner and a late lunch worked out well. While I was grilling, I heard my cell phone ring and ran into the house to grab it. I missed it but it was the stationhouse so I dialed the number while rescuing my burger from the grill. Gina answered and I kidded with her, “What, they only let the Probies answer the phones these days?”
She laughed, “Actually, I’m the one that called you just now, so I figured it would be you calling back.”
I brought my burger back inside and started putting together a salad to go with it while I talked on the phone. “Well, you got me, so what can I do for you Probie?” I loved ribbing her about the Probie thing as she was a big NCIS fan and the term was used on that show constantly.
“I was wondering, would you have time to talk to me in person in a little while? Please, say no if it is a problem. I know it’s your day off, but I’m getting off shift in a few minutes and I wanted to ask you something that I don’t want to talk about on the phone or in the station.”
Puzzled but, after a check on the dough and the clock, I realized I had a few hours before Caty got home so I told her to come over after her shift, then hung up to enjoy my lunch. I wondered what Gina could possibly have to say that couldn’t wait and had to be done in private. Deciding that time would tell, I bit into my burger and pushed everything else from my mind.
I made a pitcher of lemonade and brought out some ice, a couple of glasses, and some cheese and crackers, to the patio. Gina was sitting under the umbrella waiting for me. I decided we should get started, “So, what brings you to my patio Gina? I suspect you didn’t just miss running with me.” I gave her a grin, trying to loosen things up a bit since she looked tense.
Gina fidgeted with her lemonade glass and looked everywhere but at me. After waiting for a minute, she finally asked a question. “How well do you know Pauly?”
Well, that wasn’t the question I had expected to hear, though with the way life had been going lately, maybe I should have.
“In what way? I’ve run ambulance with her for a few years. I’ve gotten to know her socially through her sister. I guess I need to know why you’re asking.”
Gina blushed. I didn’t know she was capable of blushing but I heard a warning bell in my head when I saw it happen. “I guess I was curious about her. You know, what she likes, what she doesn’t like. I wanted to get her a get well present but I wasn’t sure what to get her.”
I looked Gina up and down, trying to make sense of her question. “Why not just get her balloons or flowers. Something simple like that would work.”
Gina shook her head at me, “I don’t want to do something that everyone else would do. What else would she like? Does she like any games? Anything special you can think of at all?”
“What’s going on Gina? Get her a plant or something. What’s the big deal? I don’t get it.”
Gina fussed with her glass some more, shifted around in her seat and generally showed no signs of talking.
That’s when it hit me. “You have a crush on her! That’s it, isn’t it?”
Gina turned multiple shades of red but didn’t confirm or deny my statement, at first. I sat back in my chair, convinced that I had it right. In fact, the longer she took to answer me, the quieter I was as I waited. Finally, after a couple of minutes of blushing out of control, she put her head on the table and hid her face in her arms. I heard a muffled,
“Yes, okay? I admit it. I can’t stop thinking about her. Since I heard that she was injured this morning, all I could do was worry about her. God Donny, what am I going to do? We work together but I can’t seem to stop these feelings.”
I chuckled, but I had some concerns to address as well. This was not only a problem within the unit, but this was, essentially, my sister-in-law that she was interested in dating. I decided to start with the job stuff first and keep things professional.
“Have you thought about the consequences at work Gina? One of you would have to change houses or, at the very least, schedules. You certainly wouldn’t be able to run on a rig together and if you both stay in the same house as medics, you’ll end up on opposite shifts. When would you see each other? Right now, you’re both together some of the time since you run on the overlap shift. That will have to change.”
“No Donny, don’t change anything yet. Nothing has happened. I haven’t even told her I have feelings for her. I don’t know how she’d react. I don’t even know if she’s gay! She never talks about a social life. Even though I’ve dropped hints, she never picked up the conversation. Is she gay? Do you know?”
I gave myself a swift mental kick in the ass and tried to figure out how to deal with this mess. “That is really something you need to talk over with her Gina. My job description does involve mentoring and helping the medics out with problems, but I don’t think the department meant dating advice. I can say this, I have never discussed Pauly’s sexuality with her, and I have never heard of her dating. The only thing I can say is this, make a move, or get over it. Do not let this interfere with the job or you won’t finish probation.”
I watched her face fall and decided I was being too hard on her. I tried a softer approach, “Listen, I think you’re one of the best probies I’ve seen in years. I don’t want to see you throw it away on a woman, even if it is my girlfriend’s sister. I like you both, and honestly, I think you both deserve happiness and love. Just be aware, it can’t affect the job. Go tell her how you feel, but if it happens, and it starts to get serious, I expect you to be honest with me so we can arrange to keep you two apart at work. Okay?”
Gina nodded solemnly, “You got it Donny! I promise, I don’t want to leave the station but I will if it means I get to have Pauly. I have a feeling that she’s worth it. I appreciate you taking the time to see me today. I guess I should get going before they end visiting hours.”
I grinned at her, “You know, one of the perks of being a medic with the department is the badge. You can use it to get in past visiting hours. Besides, you won’t need it for a few hours. Go, good luck, and by the way, I know she likes crossword puzzles.”
Gina’s whole face lit up, “Thanks Donny! I’ll see you at the station!” She took off for the front of the house and her car. I sat on the patio for a while, thinking about the strangeness of life.
I was working in the kitchen when I heard the door open and close. I turned to find Caty standing in the doorway with a smile on her face. “Hey baby, how was work?”
She sauntered over to me, and threw her arms around my neck. “It was pretty good, thanks. How was your day?”
“Well, let’s see. I had amazing sex this morning with a gorgeous woman, I found out one of my medics was injured, I went to visit her and found two IA guys bothering her and took care of that mess. Then, I find out that someone at work has a major crush on that same medic. Kind of an average day I guess.”
Caty pulled back and looked at me, “Can you repeat that part about IA and the crush? What happened with Pauly and who has the crush on her?”
I started to fill her in on the events of my day. When I got to the part about Gina, Caty’s reaction was different than I had expected.
“Now a few things make more sense! I was wondering who she was talking about. For some reason, I thought she meant Tony,” said Caty.
“Tony? What about Tony? How does he fit in here?” I was starting to feel like a part of the “Who’s on First” skit.
“Pauly had mentioned that she might be interested in someone at the station. I warned her about work relationships, but she seemed to feel pretty strongly about it. I assumed it was Tony since I knew they had been hanging out some after work.”
I pulled away and led her to the table. I started to get the food out and get dinner underway while we continued to talk.
“Do you mind that Gina seems to have feelings for Pauly? This could make life a little interesting you know.”
She looked like she was thinking about it as she started eating. “This is great honey, thanks for making dinner. Perfect choice for this time of night.” After a few more bites of her food, Caty looked up at me, “Honestly, I think that if Pauly is going to get involved with anyone, Gina might be a good choice for her. Pauly has always been somewhat reclusive. Gina might be able to draw her out of her shell.”
I must have looked as shocked as I felt because Caty started laughing at me. “You should see yourself honey! What? I certainly can’t be upset if she dates a woman, can I? What’s wrong with Gina?”
“Other than the fact they work from the same station and on overlapping shifts? Honestly? Not much. They are close in age, understand each other’s jobs, and probably have a lot in common that I don’t know about. I guess I’m just worried about what happens if they do get involved. I would have to split their shifts and then when would they see each other? I don’t want to be the cause of a break up before they even have a chance.”
Caty sobered quickly. “Baby, is that what you’re worried about? That if things don’t work out for them, that you will be at fault?”
I turned my head aside, slightly amazed that she could read me so well, and nodded. She continued by asking me, “Are you afraid I’ll be upset with you if that happened?”
I nodded again, still not able to look her in the eyes. I was terrified of screwing this up with her, and I knew how close she was with Pauly. I couldn’t find a way around changing their schedules or transferring one of them out of the house if they did get together, but I wanted them to have a chance together.
“Baby, you have to do your job, just as they need to figure this out for themselves. I would never, could never, blame you for the success or failure of my sister’s relationship. Besides, we don’t know for certain that they are going to pursue anything. However, if they do and you need to take action, then do it. No one is going to think less of you for living up to your duty, least of all me. Your sense of fairness and honor are part of why I love you. I’m here with you and I’m not going anywhere.”
I looked up into her hazel eyes and saw only love and respect. There was no reason to believe anything other than what she told me. “I love you Caty. I’m sorry, sometimes I just get insecure about us. I don’t want to do anything to push you away and I know how close you and Pauly are. You’re sure about this? Because I will have to split them apart on the rigs assuming this goes forward.”
She nodded, “Baby, it’s fine. Do what you need to do, but for now, let’s just clean up an go to bed.”
I went with Caty to pick Pauly up from the hospital and wasn’t really surprised to find Gina sitting there. We all exchanged greetings before getting down to logistics. “How long do they have you in the sling?” I asked Pauly.
“A few more days, then I’m supposed to start using it again for short periods of time before slinging it again. I have to go to PT for a while too. They said the physical therapy would help prevent a re-injury.”
“Good deal! So, until further notice, you are staying with us. We’ll make sure you can get to your PT session and take it easy with that shoulder. Do you have all your discharge paperwork yet?”
Pauly looked from me to Cait and seemed as if she had something to say. I nodded slightly at Cait, and she asked. “Pauly, what is it? Don’t you want to stay with us?”
Pauly started to shrug then grimaced with pain. Gina leaned over and resettled her sling so it would hold her in place a bit tighter. “It isn’t that I don’t want to stay. I just don’t want to get in the way. I mean you two just started living together and no matter how you look at it, Donny is my boss, not just a friend. Won’t that be weird for you guys?”
Since I seemed to be her major obstacle and I knew that Caty wanted her sister with us, I decided to step back in to the conversation. “Off shift, I’m just Donny, your sister’s girlfriend. Call me Donny or call me Chloe, I don’t care. On or off shift, we’re family. Members of the department take care of our own and this is no exception. Since you are literally family to my girlfriend as well, having you stay with us is no problem at all for me or anyone else.”
She still looked hesitant, so I made a “come-on” gesture. “Well, it is kind of sudden, but Gina and I are starting to see each other. Is it all right for her to come over to see me?”
I chuckled, “Of course, it isn’t prison Pauly! Just realize, I can’t let you two run together anymore. It isn’t a personal issue, it is just regulations. I’ll talk to the Cap when you are ready to come back to work about the schedule. Maybe we can work it out so that one of you moves houses but you both work the same schedule.”
Gina turned to me then and spoke for the first time. “You would do that? I’d be happy to move. I mean, I love it there, but Pauly’s been there a while. Thanks Donny!”
Caty spoke up then, “It might actually be best if Pauly moved station houses. With Chloe and I together, it might be awkward anyway. This would remove her from Chloe’s chain of command. That way, no one can say she is getting preferred treatment down the road because of me.”
Pauly looked at her sister with a lot of respect. “Thanks Caty. I appreciate that you took the time to think about it. You’re right too. I should be the one to change stations. As Donny said, we have time. I won’t be going back to work for at least a month. That will give us some time to see if this is going anywhere before we make any decisions.”
Gina nodded. “I agree. Who knows? This might not happen, but I couldn’t stand by and not try with her. When she got hurt, I realized that not taking the chance to tell her I wanted to date was silly. Which is worse? Taking a chance and failing, or letting it slip past and never knowing? I decided not knowing was the worst choice I could make.”
Caty smiled at me and I returned her smile. I knew what she was thinking. If she hadn’t taken the chance in that restaurant, would we have gotten together? I didn’t know but I did like to think that I would have taken the risk as I had planned that night.
“Enough drama, let’s get this patient wannabe out of here. Pauly, do you want to ride with Gina? We can just meet you back at the house if you would like.”
She nodded, so I gave her a key and told her we had another errand to run before we went home. We left before she and Gina did so we could just head right to Kristy’s room.
When we got to the elevator, I hit the button for Kristy’s floor and let out a big sigh.
“That went better than I expected. Should we tell Kristy yet?” I didn’t know exactly how to act around her yet. I didn’t know if telling her about other people’s good news was bad for her recovery.
Caty shook her head, “I don’t think so. We still don’t know what happened to Kristy, nor do we know when she’s getting out of here. Let’s see how she is before we decide anything else.”
“Okay. I’ll let you take the lead on it then. Let’s go see her and head home to help Pauly.”
I knocked on the partially open door, pushing it open the rest of the way when I heard Kristy call out for us to go in.
“Hey there! What’s going on? You look pretty happy!” I was able to relax when I saw how good Kristy actually looked. Almost as good as the Spike I started running with all those years ago. She was sitting next to the bed working a Soduko puzzle that she put aside when we came in.
“I feel so much better. I had an amazing couple of session with the doc and we figured out some stuff that’s been bugging me for years. I never knew I had all the stuff buried in my head.”
Caty went over and sat on the edge of the bed. She patted Kristy’s leg, “That’s great Kristy! Does that mean you’re getting out of here soon?”
“I’m not sure. To be honest, we didn’t discuss it yet. I know there is stuff I’m going to have to deal with but at least I’m getting somewhere.” She looked over at me, “What’s going on at the station? Everything going okay?”
I shrugged, “Yeah, same old same old. Pauly is getting sprung from here today but since Gina was with her, we asked Gina to take her to our place instead of bringing her up here. Other than that, nothing new really.”
It felt weird to keep something from her, even something as innocent as Pauly and Gina dating, but since I didn’t know what might trigger something, I kept my mouth shut.
“Good to hear. I’m glad you’re handling it all so well. I have to talk to you about the station actually.”
Caty rose from the bed, preparing to leave. “I’ll give you two some privacy. I’ll be in the lounge when you’re ready Chloe.”
“Sit back down Cait. It isn’t anything you can’t hear about, besides, if I know Donny, she’d run back to you and tell her best friend everything anyway.” She smirked at me, “Best friend my ass! Have I mentioned lately that it was about time you got off your asses about you two? Enough about that for now, let’s talk about the station.”
I was unsure of where she was going with this talk so I waited for her to continue.
“I think it is seriously time to think about if I’m going to be able to return to work or not. It isn’t fair to leave the station short—“
“I think we’ve covered it pretty well so far! Besides, what do you mean if you’ll return? Of course you’ll be back! Being a medic is what you do! Don’t you remember all the good saves and the good calls?”
Patiently, Kristy waited me out. When I stopped talking, she continued. “I know you mean well Donny, but the truth is, I haven’t been happy for a long time. I don’t know if it is the job or this other stuff, but I don’t know if I want to come back. Also, maybe I simply shouldn’t come back. There are plenty of things I can do that keep me working as a medic, without being on a rig all the time. I talked to the Cap today. I filled him in on what’s been going on with me. I thought it as time that he be brought in on this situation.”
“What did he say to you? Is that why you’re talking about quitting? I can talk to him and get him to change his mind.”
Throughout this exchange, Caty had remained silent but she moved to stand next to me and placed her hand against the small of my back. I felt the heat and comfort of here now and tried to relax into it.
“Listen to me Donny. He didn’t do anything or say anything that was less than supportive of me. He offered to keep it quiet, to approve a paid leave for me for a couple of months, and he offered desk duty when I come back.”
“Great! So, you’ll come back, get promoted or moved to an office spot and still be with us. What is so bad about that?”
I was confused but I hoped for clarity soon. Kristy didn’t want to run on the streets, but that didn’t mean she had to leave the service, did it?
“I don’t think so. I think it might be time to step out of the station house entirely.”
I was incredulous at that statement. “What do you mean “step out?” this isn’t like going to the store for some milk, damn it! This is going to impact a lot of lives! How can you just walk out on the people who rely on us?”
“Donny, one thing I’ve learned. There are always going to be people who need to be saved, some who want it, others who don’t. Someone else will have to carry on now, but I will play a role in the future. The Cap is recommending me for a teaching spot at the Academy. I’ll teach the new kids how to do it right, including taking care of themselves, so that they can continue the traditions of the Department.”
I considered that for a moment. She wouldn’t really be gone, just in a different part of the service. “So, it isn’t retirement or medical retirement? Just a new posting? You aren’t giving up?”
Kristy laughed, the first truly free laugh I had ever heard from her. “Give up? Hell no! I’m just adapting to change. Isn’t that what we teach the kids? To adapt to the needs of the patient and overcome tough situations. That is all I’m doing here. I’ll figure a few more things out here, then go home and get ready to teach.”
Cait spoke up then, “By go home, you mean come home with us, right? You know you’re welcome to stay as long as you would like.”
“I mean I’m going to my home. It is time to start reclaiming my life. I’m not afraid of it anymore. I promise you this much. When I get out, I’ll spend a night or two at my place and if it’s too much, I’ll let you know. Let’s plan something now. On the second full evening I’m home, you two come over for dinner and we’ll figure it out. If I’m stressed about being there on my own, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, I’ll make a nice dinner, we’ll chat, and you two will go home to your lives and I’ll restart my own. Deal?”
I shrugged at Caty and we both replied, “Deal.”
Continued in Part 14
Return to the Academy