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!
The shrill ring of the telephone woke me up at 5:45am, something that did not typically mean good news. Sure enough, I had a medic calling out and I needed to find a replacement or cover the shift myself until I found someone. I eased out of bed in an attempt to let Caty sleep a bit longer, but she was already awake.
“Do you have to go?” she asked.
“Sorry, Jimmy called out. His wife is out of town, and one of his kids is sick so the day care won’t take him. He hasn’t had any luck finding anyone to watch the kids today. I told him I’d cover until I found another medic.”
She sighed but threw off the covers and stood up. “I guess if you’re going to work, I might as well get up and have breakfast with you before you leave.”
“Baby, you don’t have to do that, you’re tired. You can go back to sleep.”
“I’m fine and I’d rather spend the time with you. Go, grab a shower and I’ll get something going for breakfast.”
I smiled as I hurried through a shower and geared up for the shift. My uniform was laid out for me when I came out of the bathroom and my gear bag was packed and sitting on the foot of the bed. I dressed quickly, and headed downstairs to Caty and breakfast.
I found her in the kitchen, plating scrambled eggs, toast, and breakfast potatoes. “You’re spoiling me Caty. Thanks for laying out my gear for me. You know you don’t have to wait on me like this, right?”
She deposited the food on the table and leaned over me for a kiss. “I like taking care of you sometimes. It isn’t going to be an everyday thing, but sometimes I like feeling a bit like June Cleaver.”
I chuckled, amazed again at how lucky I was to have this woman in my life. “Thank you, for everything.” Shifting gears, and topics, I asked, “What’s on your schedule today?”
She shrugged, “Most likely, I’ll go back to bed for a little while, then work in the garden. I don’t have to work until Monday so I might do some laundry or other stuff around here. How long is your shift?”
I grimaced, “Jim’s shift you mean? He’s on a twelve hour today, seven to seven. I’m hoping I find someone interested in some overtime though before ten. I figure I can call Tony in, he’s usually up for OT.”
“Why not just call him now and let him go in?”
“I don’t want to wake him up just yet. He was on until eleven last night. I have a few others I can call if he doesn’t want the shift but I want to give him a crack at it first. He’s doing more repairs to that rust bucket of his.”
Caty chuckled, “This doesn’t have anything to do with who your partner will be does it?”
I looked up at her, “Huh?” was my intelligent response.
“Isn’t that Gina’s shift? Pauly told me last night the Gina had to work until seven tonight.”
I shrugged, “I don’t remember if Jim was with her or someone else. I’ll figure it out when I get there.”
“Hmm,” was the only response I got.
“OK fine, I admit it, I want to run with her and find out what is going on with them. I also want a chance to get in touch with the supervisor at the company I’m trying to get Pauly into and he’s on today.”
Cait took my hand, kissed my palm, and looked into my eyes. I thought I might fall into them and be safe forever, swimming in the love I saw there.
“I thought you were up to something. Thank you for taking such an interest in my sister Chloe. It means a lot to me. The two of you are the only family I have left.”
I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything. I just leaned over and kissed her gently. We leaned our heads together for moment, and I was stunned by the intensity of the moment. Cait jumped suddenly as the oven timer went off.
“Drat! I forgot I set it!”
I raised an eyebrow at her and waited.
“I set it so that I knew it was time to get you off to work. You have ten minutes to finish and get going.”
I grinned at her then turned to my plate. We finished breakfast, and then I grabbed my gear bag, a water bottle, and a kiss, as I headed out the door.
“What are you doing here? I thought Jim was on with me today?” asked Gina as I walked into the station.
“He called out and I’m covering until I can get someone else in. You want to drive or ride today?” I tossed my gear bag down and hopped in the back of the rig to check out our gear.
“You can drive for now. I’ll take the calls and give you a break from paperwork. Just keep it between the lines!”
I grinned at her reference to my driving demonstration the previous week. I had been the “bad” example that we showed to new emergency driver students. I saluted and tossed my gear on board and secured it. I checked under the hood and made sure everything was fine before heading to the office and looking for people to call in and finish the shift. I decided I would call Tony first, as I had said at home, but there was no answer on his cell or home numbers. I started working down the list of medics when Tony called me back.
“What’s up Donny? Did you call? I just saw the number from the station.”
“Yeah, it was me. How do you feel about a little overtime today? Jim was a callout and I really would rather be at home today.”
“Sure! I’d love the extra cash! Who am I running with?”
“Gina is here and we’ve done a total rig check. How long until you can get it?” I was praying he would get in before a call came in.
“Uh, about fifteen minutes? I just got out of the shower so it won’t take me long. I’ll see you soon!” He hesitated, and then continued. “And Donny? Thanks, I appreciate the call.”
“No problem, now get in here before tones drop and you’ll be my favorite person ever!”
After we hung up, I called home to let Caty know that I would be home soon if Tony got in quickly. I went to the weight room and found Gina in there lifting.
“Hey, Tony’s coming in to finish the shift with you. I’m gone as soon as he gets here.”
She grunted with the effort of her lifting before she nodded. “Fine with me. He’s a good medic.”
“Yeah, I think so too. Want a spot?”
“Sure, thanks. I’m only doing fifty per side today.” We added the weights to the barbell and she squirmed into position on the bench. “Okay, I have it.”
I followed her through each lift, counting for her as she went. When she took a break between sets, I took the chance to ask her some questions. “So, mind if I ask how things are going with you and Pauly?” I didn’t want to say anything about Pauly looking to transfer houses in case she hadn’t brought it up to Gina yet.
Gina blushed but kept looking at me. “We’re doing well. I think she’s pretty amazing. No matter what, I’m glad I’ve taken the time to get to know her better. We’re still taking it slowly for now though.”
I nodded, “I think you guys are being pretty smart about it, but more importantly, I think you’re both great women and you look very happy together.”
“I have to say, I thought you would be against it. I know how you are about dating within the house and all. I meant to ask you about that soon. Do you think I could transfer to another house soon? I don’t know how Pauly feels about this yet, but I want to take things to another level. I’m serious about her Donny, and I want to show that to her.”
I chuckled, looked at her expression, and laughed even harder. When I could speak again, I told her, “You two are hysterical! She asked me the same thing and I won’t lose you both. She has it almost arranged anyway. She’s going to transfer to the same shift and schedule as you have now, in the next sector over.”
She looked incredulously at me. “When did she do this? Why? This was her station first so I should be the one to leave.”
I calmed her down. “It makes more sense to have her transfer actually. She has the seniority to get the shift she wanted, you would have ended up on overnights or swing. I’m living with her sister, which could make it appear that she receives favoritism here. Family shouldn’t be in the chain of command if possible. At least not directly linked as we are here. Besides, I need to keep you around to remind me how to drive!”
Laughing, she got back into position for her next set. She didn’t speak again until setting the bar back in the cleats. “Thanks for telling me Donny. That helped me figure out a few things.”
“Anything you want to share?”
“No, you’ll know soon enough I think.”
Just then Tony came in, I heard him going through the lounge. I hollered out to him, “We’re in the gym Tony!”
His head popped around the corner before the rest of him appeared. “Oh hey there! I was wondering where you guys were. Donny, I pulled your gear from the rig and put mine on. You’re good to go whenever.”
“Thanks man, I appreciate it. I’m out of here then guys, stay safe!” With that, I headed for home and my day with Caty.
I was nervous and I couldn’t shake it. I fidgeted with the collar of my shirt, shifted in my seat, and kept changing radio stations. Finally, Cait removed my hand from the radio and told me to leave it alone.
“Honey, you are driving me crazy! I’m invoking driver’s privilege! No more flipping stations, woman! What’s wrong with you?”
I shifted in my seat again and stared out the window. “I’m just nervous. What if her place is a wreck or she’s had another episode like before the hospital. What if something has gone wrong and she just didn’t call us?” I knew I was running through every bad scenario in my head and that it wasn’t likely to be the truth, but I couldn’t help myself.
“Baby, I talked to her yesterday and she sounded fine. Better than in a long time really. I am sure everything is good and we’ll have fun tonight. Just relax and don’t make it seem like you’re looking for signs and symptoms. She’s your friend, not your patient tonight. Promise me?”
“I promise. I know you’re right. I feel like I do when I’m going into a domestic call, jittery from the adrenalin. I don’t know what to expect going inside in either case.”
Caty, her hair recently cut and styled differently, smiled indulgently at me. I decided to redirect this conversation before I got myself in hot water. “I like the new hair cut. What made you change it?”
“I decided that if I made it kind of shaggy and messy that I could have more time with you instead of styling my hair. Do you really like it? I’m still not sure I do yet.”
I ran my fingers through the soft brown strands, like liquid chocolate in my hands. “I really do baby, it makes you look even younger than you look already.” I joked, “Pretty soon people are going to think I’m robbing the cradle.”
“Uh huh, you don’t look a minute over twenty eight. Besides, since when do you mind what others think?”
“I don’t, not really. At least, not outside of the service. They already know that I’ve got the hottest partner out there anyway.”
She stuck her tongue out at me as she pulled into the driveway at Kristy’s place. I brought the dessert, a homemade raspberry tort, and Caty brought in a few things of Kristy’s that she found in the laundry. Kristy opened the door as we reached it.
“Come on in! I thought I heard a car. Great haircut Caty! Chloe, is this the one you made for the retirement party last year?”
I nodded as I handed it over to her. I had to admit, she and her place looked good. Clean and organized, and the furniture had even been rearranged a bit. “I like the changes, it looks good here.” I didn’t know what else to say or do. I still felt awkward about having a conversation. Now that I knew she was leaving the station, I didn’t know if I could talk about it and the people there without upsetting her.
I saw Kristy and Caty exchange a look before she replied. “Thanks kid, I thought it opened things up a little more. Can I get you something to drink? Nothing with alcohol I’m afraid, but I have soda, juice, sparkling cider, and lemonade.”
I grinned, I loved lemonade, and she knew it. “You bet, keep that lemonade coming. I can’t drink anyway, I have a shift tomorrow.” I clamped my jaws shut, trying to keep the words trapped but failing.
Kristy came over to me and put a hand on my shoulder. She flashed that amazing smile of hers and tried to calm me down. “I know it will be weird. I am still a medic and firefighter though and I will always understand what the job entails and means to you. I’m still in the service, just in the educational side. You can talk to me about it, shifts, people, calls, scheduling, whatever you wish. Nothing has changed between us Chloe, other than I will be a better friend now since I won’t have my head up my ass. I’m able to communicate easier now and express my feelings. I’m still me and you are still you. Don’t berate yourself for mentioning work, it is a huge part of who you are and I love that, really I do.”
I felt like a giant weight had lifted from my chest as she spoke. I saw the old fire in her eyes, the rate of her voice was faster than it had been, and she was carrying her body differently now. There was more power in her stance, more self-awareness, and it looked good on her.
“Got it! Thanks Kristy, I’ve just been a little stressed out about what to say to you. I didn’t want to spark anything bad, you know?”
She sighed before she spoke. I could see her face change as she took a second deep breath in and exhaled slowly. “I want to talk to you both about something. I figured out the underlying cause of my stress reactions and other problems I’ve had. Let’s go sit in the living room, okay?”
We went in and I sat across from Kristy while Caty sat next to her. “OK buddy, what’s up?”
“I learned a lot during my time in the hospital, especially from the hypnosis. It helped unlock memories that I’ve buried for years, since I was a little kid in fact. You know that my dad was a member of the department too, right?”
“Yeah, he was a Battalion Chief right?” I remembered hearing about his death in the line of duty while Kristy was in elementary school. He went in to a building to rescue one of his crew and the structure partially collapsed, trapping them inside.
She nodded. “He died in the line, which you know. What I didn’t remember was that he had a substance abuse problem and he was an abuser.” She took a shuddering breath, and I saw tears start to trail silently down her cheeks. “There’s more though. He used to beat my mom and me when he was high. He raped me, my own father raped me, and it happened often for about two years. Until he died.”
Kristy started crying with more force, and Caty put her arms around her for support. I sat there with my mouth hanging open, unsure of what to say or how to react. I hadn’t imagined anything like this had happened. I had figured it was too much stress on the job or something similar.
Caty help her and rocked her, “You’re safe now Kristy. We’re here for you now.”
I still didn’t know what to do put I couldn’t just sit there like a lump. “Uh, yeah, I mean, he was messed up, ya know? You were just a kid.”
I felt my anger grow as I watched this strong woman crumble beneath the memories of the abuse she suffered as a child. I got up and started pacing but I had nowhere to go and no one on whom I could take out my anger. I felt like I might explode with the anger welling up inside of me. How could someone do that to their own daughter! How could a member of the service, sworn to protect life, violate it so badly? I searched for answers and found none.
I pulled myself together for Kristy’s sake, knowing I could freak out later at home. Somehow, we made it through dinner and hung out long enough to make sure that Kristy was really doing well enough on her own. After promising to call the next day, we left and headed home. As I drove away, I felt the anger rising up inside of me again.
I pulled off the road into a little turnout and stepped out of the car. Caty followed but hung back while I paced. “I can’t believe all that stuff she told us! How could anyone treat a kid that way? How could one of our own, sworn to protect life, do that to his own daughter? I don’t get it Caty! I see stuff like this everyday but I still can’t understand it!” I kept pacing, kicking at the stones on the ground as a way to release some of my anger.
Caty came up next to me and spoke softly. “Sweetie, I know it is really hard to do what you do everyday. No one should see the things you guys deal with every day. Maybe that warped him. The drugs certainly warped his perceptions of right and wrong.”
“I just don’t know how to help her through this. All I want to do is slug someone and the only person I want to hit is already dead! Hell, he was probably ripped when he went into that fire! Battalion Chiefs never make entry.”
I felt gentle hands resting on my shoulders from behind me and I leaned into her warmth. “The only thing we can do is listen when she needs to talk and treat her as normally as possible. I have to admit, it was hard for me to sit there and not get angry, but our anger doesn’t help her fight her fears of relationships.”
“So, you think this is why she’s never really dated? This thing with her father?”
“It makes sense. I can see why she would have trust issues and anger issues, especially revolving around men.” She let me rest against her for another minute then gently kissed the back of my neck. “Let’s go home baby. We can keep talking there or we can let it drop until you are ready.”
I nodded and let her lead me back to the car. I didn’t fight her when she took the keys from me and guided me to the passenger side. We drove home in silence, with me clutching Caty’s hand the entire trip.
I went to bed as soon as we got home and listened to Caty’s voice as I heard her murmuring with Pauly. As I lay on my back, I watched the shadows play across the ceiling, seeing images on them like cloud watching on a sunny day. Except, these were not light hearted and fun images, these were pictures of terror I saw. Monsters lurking in shadow and children cowering in fear with no one to protect them. I tossed and turned, trying to block the images from racing through my mind.
I heard the door open and felt the bed sink slightly as Caty sat on the edge. She ran her hand over my shoulder and down my arm in a soothing way while she waited for me to speak. “I don’t get it, how did she forget all that stuff and suddenly remember it after all this time? Why now?”
Caty sighed and stretched out on the bed, pulling me against her body. “I don’t know baby, I just don’t know. I understand that she blocked the memories of her father’s abuse, but I don’t know why it triggered now. Maybe it had to do with her experiences in the field. Perhaps her psyche simply had all it could take and it had to come out or destroy her.”
I snuggled into Caty’s arms and let myself relax in the safety of her love. I was still upset about what Kristy had gone through but there was nothing we could do to change the past. We didn’t have anyone in the here and now to go after, all we had was the chance to try to help Kristy regain her life. That would be enough.
“Hey Pauly, what are you doing?”
“Time for me to move back to my place Donny. My shoulder is much better and frankly, as much as I like you and love my sister, you two are disgustingly sweet together. I don’t want to go on insulin, so it’s time.” She gave me a grin but I knew she was right. There were times that Caty and I forgot she was around.
“You know you’re welcome here though, right? I don’t want to come between you and your sister.”
“Yeah well, honestly, I’d like some privacy of my own these days. Things are going really well with Gina and I’d like to spend more time with her. It’s kind of hard with my big sister and our boss underfoot.”
“Oh yeah, speaking of that boss thing. I’m not your boss anymore, you report to Station 12 starting with your medical release to work date. You’ll be on the same shift and the same rotation schedule as Gina. You got lucky that some guy there wanted to get back on nights only so he could go back to college.”
Pauly punched the air with her fist and gave a little shout. “Awesome! That is some of the best news you could have given me! I can’t wait to tell Gina.” With that, she pulled out her cell phone and started dialing.
“You staying for dinner or should I just let Caty know you’re gone?”
“I already called her, I’ll come over for dinner next week For now I’m heading out. And Donny, thanks for everything.”
I blushed, “No problem kid, just get healthy fast.”
I looked around the house, amazed at how empty it seemed suddenly with just me home. Caty was at work, our guests were gone, and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I decided a nap was in order and headed upstairs.
Continued in Part 16
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