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’m sure you’re wondering how it went working with Pauly that day. Truth is, we were so busy we didn’t have much time to talk anyway so it worked out. When she did find out a few days later, she showed up at my house to talk to me. That was when the real fun started for me.
She pulled up outside my house while I was outside cutting the grass. I’d just finished and was putting away the mower, but I was moving kind of slow since I’d been thinking about Caitlin. Pauly got out of her truck, a big black Ford Explorer, and came over to me as I wiped my hands off with a towel and closed the garage.
“What’s going on Pauly, did we have plans or something?” I knew we didn’t and I knew why she must be there but I didn’t want to come out and ask if she had a problem with me and her sister.
“I think you know why I’m here Donny, I spoke to Caty last night. I took the night to think things over before deciding to talk to you about it. Do you have some time now?”
Well, that was surprising! She was still talking to me in that same polite manner that she always used. She wasn’t steamed or screaming at me. I was grateful, as a scene in my driveway wasn’t what I wanted to deal with on my day off. I waved her inside, kicking off my grass-covered sneakers in the doorway, and slipping off my socks as well. As I padded towards the kitchen, Pauly followed me and sat down at the table. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water from the fridge, tossed her one, washed my face and hands at the sink before grabbing a clean dishtowel to dry off.
Finally, I sat down, ready to deal with Pauly’s visit. “Okay Pauly, I knew your sister was going to talk to you so I’m sort of ready for this, but please try and go easy on me. The whole idea is almost as new to me as it is to you.” I took a swig from my water bottle and nervously played with the label as I waited for her to say something.
Pauly leaned forward so that her elbows were on the table, her spiky blond hair drooping a little, she locked her hazel eyes on me. Her eyes were so like her sister’s and yet so vastly different. Where Cait’s were clear and open to be read, Pauly’s were darker and it felt like there was a door slammed shut when I looked into them.
In a level tone of voice she said, “Donny, I’ve suspected for a while that you had a thing for my sister but I didn’t think anything would happen. You of all people preach about the code of not sleeping with members of the family. She’s a dispatcher and she’s my sister. Either way that’s like sleeping with a cousin or something. What’s gotten into you?” She leaned back, still staring me down, daring me to answer her.
“You’re right, I know you’re right. I don’t know if anything would have come of my feelings if your sister hadn’t made the first move.”
Her jaw clenched, I could see the muscle in her jaw contract. I took a deep breath and counted as I exhaled to relax a bit.
“I’ve liked her for a while but I was too afraid to do anything about it. The truth is, we aren’t sleeping together, we’re just starting to date. I’m scared Pauly, more afraid than I’ve ever been about anything. I don’t want to mess things up. You know how I always say don’t sleep with members of the family unless you think it could be really serious?”
She nodded but didn’t relax.
“I think this is serious Pauly, that’s why I’ve been too afraid to do anything about it. I had a rocky break-up not long before you joined the station and I didn’t take it too well. I decided not to get involved again because I didn’t want that kind of pain in my life.”
It was my turn to lean forward and lean on the table. I looked her dead in the eye and continued; “I think your sister could be it for me, for life. We’re good friends with an attraction to each other. I hope it doesn’t bother you that we’re dating, but I can promise you two things. One, I will always do my best to take care of her and never hurt her. Two, whether or not you approve, she’s worth fighting for and I will keep seeing her.” With that, I sat back and sucked down some more water, waiting for the dam of Pauly’s emotions to burst forth.
Instead, she remained calm, still leaning back in her chair, as she looked me over as if assessing a trauma scene. “I’m going to keep an eye on you Donny. I believe you and I trust you, but she’s my sister you know? I had to come over and ask. I had to see for myself how you really felt. We’re good, but don’t you dare hurt her, got it?”
I nodded and stood up when she did. I followed her to the door and waited there as she left. Once she was gone, I leaned against the wall with a sigh of relief. I couldn’t believe that Pauly had actually come over to ask my intentions!
Pushing off from the wall, I went upstairs to take a shower before heading over to Cait’s house. We were planning to cook on the grill and she said she had a surprise for me. Surprises have always made me nervous and she knew it. I think that had something to do with her pleasure in it, the making me nervous part. As if I wasn’t already nervous enough! Ah well, what else could I do?
I arrived a few minutes early and went around back to the patio where the grill was located. Cait’s eyes lit up when she saw me coming. I wasn’t used to seeing that but I was sure my own did the same. I had a bag in my hand and she frowned at it but came over to give me a quick kiss and hug.
“What’s that Chloe? I thought I told you not to bring anything?” She had started using my given name more often the past week or so. She said that Donny was a good name for a friend, but she didn’t want to spend her life calling out Donny’s name when there was a perfectly good name not getting used. I had choked on my drink when she said that part about the spending her life calling me anything and the conversation quickly changed course. Honestly, I never had anything against my first name, the Donny bit was something started at the firehouse, and it stuck.
“I know, but I saw it and I couldn’t resist. It’s just a little something for you. You can have it now or it can wait until later. Your choice entirely.” She raised an eyebrow at me, a trick I had never mastered, before shaking her head in amusement.
“You are just too much sometimes. I tell you what, as long as it doesn’t need refrigeration or food, I’ll wait until after dinner when I give you your surprise, okay?”
She motioned to me to leave the bag on the patio and I joined her as she went in the house to get the food ready for the grill.
I was impressed by the amount of prep work that had already been done. We both love to cook so I usually help with the basic chopping and cleaning of things. It looked like everything was already done.
“What’s going on? You don’t trust my knife skills anymore? Have I ever chopped when you asked for minced?”
She grinned and came over for another hug. “Of course not. I just wanted to be able to spend more time hanging out than cooking tonight. I thought we could talk about how things are going and about Pauly’s reaction to my announcement.” She gave me another squeeze before releasing me and leaning against the counter.
I chuckled then laughed outright. “Oh, you mean the reaction that involved her coming over to my house this afternoon, unannounced, to see what my intentions are towards you?”
I watched her eyes get as large as saucers before she slouched and hung her head down.
“She really did that to you? Oh Chloe, I’m so sorry. I told her not to do anything like that too. What happened? Are you two okay?”
I walked over to her and leaned against the counter next to her before putting an arm around her waist. I waited patiently for her to look up into my eyes so that I could see her as I spoke to her.
“Everything is fine. She came in and we spoke about it. Mostly she just wanted to make sure I was in this for real, not to play with your heart. She wasn’t around when Karen left so she doesn’t know that I’m not a player. She’s protective of you and that’s something I totally respect.”
“Are you sure? I mean, it isn’t going to mess with you two working together will it?” She didn’t look convinced that things were fine.
“I promise you, we’re fine and working together will not be a problem unless I break your heart. Since I have no intentions of doing that we’re fine.”
I gave her my best grin and pulled her against me. She leaned into me and we just enjoyed the embrace for a few minutes. She felt so good in my arms that I never wanted to let her go, but I had to or we wouldn’t ever get out of the kitchen. “Weren’t we supposed to get the food on the grill? Let’s do that and then we can spend the rest of the evening relaxing.”
She stayed against me for another minute and then moved off to start getting food together. It was still a little weird for me, cuddling with Caty. I mean, yeah it was the stuff I’d dreamed about for months, but it still seemed strange to go from hardly touching her to kissing and hugging, never mind anything else! Yeah, it felt awesome and frankly, I spent even more time turned on around her than ever before, but at the same time, it was almost surreal. I planned to ask her if she felt that way also, but hadn’t figured out a way to bring it up yet.
We were sitting outside after dinner, on a swinging bench seat she had on the patio, just relaxing and talking. Her head was in my lap with her legs drawn up so she could lie down and use me as a pillow. I played absently with her hair but still thinking about the surreal nature of things. Everything was so new and I was still too afraid to trust that my heart would be safe. I guess she sensed something because she looked up at me.
“Do you need to talk? I know that quiet, brooding thing you do. I’d like to help if I can.”
I bit my lip, unsure of how to verbalize what I was thinking and feeling. “I’m not really sure, I mean, I guess everything just seems too good right now, you know? Like, I’ve wanted this with you for so long that I can’t believe you feel the same way. We went from avoiding physical contact to hugging, kissing, and cuddling in the blink of an eye. It just seems weird sometimes,” I caught myself and corrected with, “In a good way of course, I mean I love it, it’s just surreal at times.”
She was quiet for a little while, obviously thinking about what I had said before she kicked me out of her life. I started to freak a little before she finally spoke again.
“I think I understand what you’re saying. We were good friends for several years after quite a bit of time being voices on a radio or telephone. We were work buddies, at least sort of, before we became friends and that grew to a close friendship. Now, we’re taking things into a different space, into a different operating procedure. I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to get to hold you and kiss you. I wish I could hold your hand forever, just to have that connection with you. What can I do to help?”
What a woman! Instead of complaining or thinking I wasn’t into her after all, she understood how I felt and wanted to make it better for me! I think I died and went to heaven at that moment.
“I guess just be patient with me, like you have been, and I’ll do my best to get over it quickly. I do love how it feels to hold you even though it scares me too. I just wish I could get rid of my doubts and hang ups.”
She reached up and pulled my head down so she could kiss me. That woman could kiss! She started nice and gently, slowly introducing her tongue and seeking entrance into my mouth. After gentling her way inside, she caressed my mouth, seeking out my tongue and dancing with it before releasing the kiss. I was breathless and my heart was racing, I leaned down and initiated a kiss of my own and we continued like that until it started to cool off outside. I noticed her starting to shiver and suggested that we go inside so she could warm up. She took my hand and led me inside to the hallway, raised her eyebrow then inclined her head towards her bedroom. I wanted to go there, whatever Gods and Goddesses there are knew I wanted to go there, but I just couldn’t move my feet in that direction yet.
She smiled and headed into the living room with me instead, guiding me towards the couch. “You know, I could still have my way with you in here, it would just be less comfortable than my bed.”
She flashed a grin at me but her eyes had gotten darker and I wondered if I was turning into a tease at the ripe old age of thirty-two. She sat on the sofa, relaxing back into the cushions and held her arms out to me. I sat and relaxed into her, letting her hold me and reassure me that things were going to be fine. I still had flashbacks of my time with Karen and a time when I believed her words too. It was getting easier to remind myself that this wasn’t Karen, but Cait, and she had done nothing to earn mistrust. Eventually, I headed home, even though Caty said I could stay over with no pressure. I had to work the next day and didn’t think I’d get any sleep lying in bed next to her all night.
I wasn’t in the station house more than ten minutes when the house siren started going off and dispatch came across the speaker system.
“Station 2-4, Station 2-4, a house fire at 287 Viceroy Drive, two sides and roof involved. Station 2-4, a house fire at 287 Viceroy Drive, two sides and roof involved. Time of dispatch 0635.” Shit, the whole station sent out at change of shift for a full on house fire. Not a good way to start my day, but of course, I doubt it was the way whomever lived at that address wanted to start theirs either.
We all headed for the trucks, stepping into our turnout gear before climbing in and responding. The Captain was in the station and he put the whole house out responding before he switched to channel five to take command of the scene. County monitors all the channels, so it doesn’t matter which one we use, we can get through to them. By switching to the channel they designated we could all communicate without stepping on other radio traffic.
I was riding as crew chief of my rig, and I was partnered with Pauly, so she drove. One other rig was with us, Spike and Tony were in it. Spike would take Medical Command, working hand in hand with Fire Command, i.e. Captain Williams. She would have Tony set up a medical station for firefighters to come rehab after their allotted time working. Each firefighter only works until their air tank alarm sounds, then they have to leave to recharge the tank and get checked out by medics. We take their blood pressure, pulse, check their breathing and respiration counts and make them hydrate and cool off before letting them retrieve their refilled tanks and return to the scene. We would all help with this until or unless we had a patient to transport.
Our third crew was already out on a call, but they would most likely respond to our scene when they cleared their call. Another station would move a rig closer to our border to cover calls if needed, until the fire scene was announced as under control. It is all one delicate and well-orchestrated ballet with cooperation between the different services and stations. We called in to announce our arrival on scene and went to Spike to find out where we were setting up the rehab station.
The house was burning well, now three sides and the roof were fully involved. That meant no one would be climbing the ladder to the roof to ventilate, the roof would already be considered a lost cause. I was relieved, venting a roof was dangerous due to the chance of roof collapse and I always worried when our brothers and sisters were up top. The engine and trucks were running hose lines and opening two hydrants. The ladder was also setting up and extending the support legs out so they could deploy the bucket for additional water to be put on the fire from above. The Captain really wanted to keep this from spreading to adjacent houses and one way to do that was water from the top to prevent too many sparks from spreading.
I had only vaguely realized that Caitlin was the dispatcher for this call. Somehow, hearing her voice made me less tense but I would ponder that later, now was time to focus on laying out gear and supplies to have them ready if needed. We received two EMT’s to give additional help on the scene from a neighboring district. They were basic life support, no ability to use needles or give medications other than a very select few. However, it gave us the manpower we would need, especially if anyone needed transport to the ER.
All the lines were in place, the crackling and roar of the fire was starting to be met with the hiss of water rushing from the high-pressure hoses that needed two people to control them. The smell of smoke was heavy in the air, the radio crackled continuously as we heard firefighters getting directions and acknowledging their officers. We were now on channel three if we need to reach Fire Command or if the Captain needed to reach us. That way we wouldn’t interfere with the firefighters’ communications. Our radios were set to scan so we could hear all the traffic but our channel would supersede any other if we were called.
We started getting the first flow of firefighters who had changed out with the relief crews to rehab and refill tanks. We were directing them to sit in our triage area, the EMT’s and Medics started taking BP’s and other vitals, the battalion support group had arrived and were pushing water and sports drinks on the tired and sooty firefighters while they rested. No one was at risk so we released them in plenty of time to relieve their brethren. The smoke kept shifting in our direction and we were all starting to look almost as sooty as the outer ring of personnel working the trucks. I grabbed some of the sterile water and rinsed my face off before offering the bottle to the rest of the crew to use.
We worked for hours before the scene was under control. Thankfully, only one firefighter had to be relieved from service and the EMT crew took him in to receive treatment for smoke inhalation before they returned to their own area. The operation was starting to get downsized after close to six hours on scene. I sat on the back step of Spike’s rig during a quiet time while Tony and Pauly took care of a few guys needing a little extra time at rehab to calm down their blood pressure before returning to work. Spike looked down on me from her position sitting on the floor of the rig with her feet on the step I was sitting on. Both doors to the rig were open for easy access to supplies if needed and it gave her a place to hang out where she could still hear the radio over the racket.
“How’s it going? Are things under control yet?” I asked Spike since I hadn’t been listening to all the traffic. After a while I got sick of it and turned off the scanner function on my radio.
“Yeah, sounds like it. They are inside now, hitting hot spots and looking for flare ups. How are you holding up? You’ve been running around for quite a while and you look like you caught some smoke too.”
“I’m good. I’ve been hydrating with sports drinks. I’m just in need of a shower and clean uniform. I guess we’ll be heading out soon, huh?” I really didn’t care when we headed left, we still had hours to go on shift so here was as good a place as any to spend it. I did really want a shower but with my luck I’d be in the middle of it and get tapped out again. I take fast showers but it sucks when you’re all soapy and have to rinse, dry and stuff yourself into a uniform as you run out the door. I usually toss on shorts and a tee shirt and wear my turnout pants if that happens. It isn’t the most comfortable thing but it is faster than getting my uniform pants and boots on.
We sat there, just shooting the shit and trading stories when we heard a loud crash and the radio burst to life. There were voices yelling directions, shouting things we couldn’t make out and our channel opened up, calling for medics and two backboards. That isn’t good so we grabbed them and our partners and headed towards the command center.
I radioed for back up since it sounded like we were both going to leave the scene shortly and there had to be another crew on scene for the remaining fire crews working. Tony had grabbed the trauma bag, Pauly had the backboards, I had the med kit, and Spike was carrying her multipurpose bag with full IV setups, splints, basic meds, and some other random supplies. We got to the command post and waited for more information on what had happened. Luckily, we all had our turnout gear on and we actually wore our helmets for a change.
The Captain came over to brief us that two guys were trapped inside. Part of the roof had come down when a wall shifted. The fire had looked like it was coming under control but had actually gotten inside a couple of walls and buckled them, triggering the shift. They had radio contact with one and he was injured, and the other was under more rubble and his buddy couldn’t get to him. He did report hearing the man-down alarm close by, so at least there was a basic location. Crews were already shoring up the walls and moving rubble in an effort to reach the downed men. When the Captain gave us the names of the guys trapped, Tony went pale.
“Shit! What the hell? How did he end up in there? He’s not even a pipe guy!” He continued to grumble and stress out. One of the guys trapped was his roommate until last year, when he got married and bought a small house with his new wife.
The other guy was fairly new to the house but seemed nice enough. I didn’t really know him but I did know Tony’s former roommate, Scott. Shit! Days like this suck! Fuck it, we still had a job to do and I tried to pull it together and help Tony do the same thing.
Pauly was waiting next to the engine closest to the house, just staring at it as if that would get things done faster. She knew both guys as well of course and looked like she was working pretty hard to keep from raging also. We would have to debrief later in the day, it was standard when one of our own was injured in the line of duty like this. Our Captain was a stickler about that stuff. Since he was running the scene, it would happen.
Finally the crews were able to move the debris and find the two trapped men. It took a little more time to free them from the rubble. We waited as close to the scene as we were permitted until things were a bit more secure. After a few more minutes, Tony grabbed the trauma bag and headed towards to house.
“Tony! Stop! You can’t go in yet!”
He ignored me and kept moving towards the perimeter. I understood the urge, we all did, but we were supposed to follow our training and command protocols, not run off half-cocked like some punk kid. I
“Damn it Tony! Get back here! That’s an order!” I caught up to him only to find myself shoved to the ground.
“I’m going’ in Donny!” He growled and kept moving.
Now that pissed me off mightily! I got up and ran after him again, and tackled him just before he reached the fire zone perimeter. All past that point were supposed to put on SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) before going any further into the smoke. Another guy from the station helped me get him up and away from the perimeter while Spike caught up to us and looked ready to read Tony the riot act. I think she would have too if we hadn’t gotten word that they had cleared the rubble and were bringing out both guys in Stokes baskets.
We all grabbed out gear and got ready to evaluate the patients. They were essentially back boarded for us by the baskets so all we did was secure their heads and necks with collars and head blocks and hustle towards the rigs with the guys. Spike road in the back with the unconscious Scott, while I rode with the less injured man, Ryan, on the way to the hospital. Lucky for me, and him, Ryan was okay from the looks of things. His gear took the brunt of the collapse, he had been pinned down and couldn’t move to get to Scott. He had a possible dislocated shoulder, but his pulses were good and his gear plus the basket kept him as secure as anything I could rig up so I left him as I found him and simply monitored him, gave him oxygen, and called it in to the ER.
We pulled up on the ramp of the ER and found two sets of teams waiting for us. One set took Scott, the other, Ryan, and whisked them away as we gave report, jogging alongside. I have to say, it was good to see the care that we received when hurt on the job. After we gave report, Spike and I met by gear storage to talk about what had happened and how to handle Tony.
Spike was his direct supervisor, but I had done a lot of his ride time so she wanted some input from me. The truth was, I hadn’t thought of him as the type to lose it at a scene like that, even though it was a close friend. That is just part of the job, our friends get hurt doing what we do. We can rage and cry all we want after the incident is over. Until then we owe it to our family of co-workers to keep going as strong as possible to care for them and get everyone else out safely.
“Donny, you know he has to answer for this. He could have gotten himself and others killed today. Not to mention he struck one of his probationary supervisors. We can’t let that kind of thing go.”
“Yeah I know. I also know that he felt a lot of stress on the scene. I don’t think he meant to push me that hard. I don’t think he was thinking at all.” I sighed, knowing I had just proven Spike’s point for her.
We headed out to the rigs where our partners were cleaning and replacing gear. I helped Pauly get things squared away so we could head back to base. Spike took her time cleaning up the back of her rig with Tony. I don’t know if she even spoke to him or just let him stew in his head. I did notice them going back inside, to check on Scott I assumed, as we headed back to station. I put us on radio as available and headed to base. That was when I realized what I had noticed earlier. Caty had been the original dispatcher but she wasn’t on the air anymore. Wondering if her shift was over, I looked at the dashboard clock and determined she should still be there.
I shrugged it off, figuring she had been relocated to a different section of the call center and leaned my head back against the seat. I closed my eyes and just let the motion of the rig lull me into a daydream zone. When I heard the back-up beeps start, I knew we were back at the station and grabbed the mike to put us in station with county. I got an acknowledgement and grabbed my stuff as I headed in to the bay. Pauly and I ditched our gear and headed to the bunks to clean up.
We were in the shower stalls when I heard Pauly’s voice ask me a question quietly.
“What is going to happen to Tony? I know he lost it today but Scott has been like a brother to him. Is he going to get suspended?”
Great, these were questions I not only shouldn’t answer, but also couldn’t, answer. “I really don’t know. Spike asked me for input about my time riding with him, but that was it. She didn’t say what was going to happen next. I figure she’s going to talk to the Captain before they decide on a course of action. I’m sure they’ll be fair, but he did cross some major lines.”
She agreed quietly and we got ready to hit the streets again if needed. I headed downstairs and went to the lounge to hang out, and rest, until we got tapped or got word on the guys taken in. Those not still needed at the fire scene were already congregating at the hospital, but we had to remain in our patrol zone.
I was just closing my eyes when my cell phone buzzed insistently in its holster on my belt. Groaning slightly, I reached for it without opening my eyes and answered it. It was Spike with an update from the hospital. Scott was going to be fine, he had taken a bump and would be in the hospital overnight, but they deemed it a mild concussion and he would make a full recovery. Ryan did have a dislocated shoulder, which the doctor manipulated into place, and he too would be in over night. Ryan would have to go through some rehabilitation before he could go back on full duty. I thanked her and hung up, a little more relaxed, and dozed off for a while.
Continued in Part 4
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