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!
“Are you sure? I don’t mind if you want me to go home. I mean, if you two need some time alone.”
I looked at Cait like she was growing three heads. “Why would I want you to go home? You’ve known Spike even longer than I have and she expects you to be here too. What’s going on?”
She shrugged non-committally, “I don’t know, it just seems strange to entertain one of your friends here.”
She was standing in the doorway to the living room, looking entirely too cute and awkward. I reached for her and pulled her in for a hug. “Baby, we already told people about us a while ago. We’ve been together for almost five months now. We’ve gone to some station stuff together, and you’ve helped me host stuff here before we ever thought about dating. Why wouldn’t I want you here?”
“I don’t know. I guess it was just a momentary panic. I know how important your relationship with Kristy is to you. I don’t want to keep you from any of your odd paramedic bonding rituals.”
“You know, now that I think about it, I think you are the only person who regularly calls her by her actual name. Why is that?”
The cutest blush spread up her neck until it reached her ears, turning her a lovely shade of pink. “Caty, what aren’t you telling me? Now I have to know.”
“Nothing really, I just never felt right calling her Spike.” She didn’t look at me when she said it and I knew there was more to it than she was telling.
“Don’t make me use the torture. You know you’ll tell me, so just tell me.”
“I did, there isn’t anything else, really.”
“Uh huh, sure. That’s it woman! Torture time for you!” I bent low and scooped her up into a fireman’s carry so that her upper body bent over my shoulder and I carried her into the bedroom. I dumped her on the queen size bed and grabbed her hands before she could move.
“Last chance, are ya gonna tell me? Or do I torture you?”
“C’mon honey, we don’t have time for this. Besides, I told you, I just never got in the habit.”
“Okay, torture time!” I leaned over her, securing her arms with one of my hands and started tickling her with the other.
“Stop it! Stop it! I give, I give!” Cait lay there gasping for breath as I stopped tickling her.
“So, what is it? Why don’t you call her Spike?”
“I’m just embarrassed Chloe, please don’t tell her.” Cait looked serious suddenly and she had started to blush.
“Honey, of course not, if you ask me to not tell, then I won’t. What could be so bad though?”
“It isn’t bad, I’m just embarrassed. When I became a dispatcher, we had to go through a CPR class. Kristy was the lead instructor and I totally crushed out on her. You know how she is, she doesn’t introduce herself as Spike, so, I thought of her as Kristy. Well, I was totally into her. I found reasons to stay during breaks to talk to her, I signed up with her for advanced first aid just to be around her some more. I figured I could work up the nerve to find out if she was gay and maybe ask her out.”
I started chuckling. I could just picture a crush-ridden Cait trying to figure out Spike when they were both much younger. “What happened? Did you come on to her?”
“Thankfully, no, I didn’t. I found out that she was straight and saved myself that humiliation at least. However, I never was able to think of her as anything other than Kristy.”
I helped her up from the bed and smoothed out the comforter. We headed back out to the kitchen to get some food together and kept talking.
“That isn’t too bad. Should I worry that you have a thing for medics? I mean, I’m not your first and all.” I couldn’t help but tease her a little bit. I was so into teasing her that I didn’t even see the elbow coming, “Ooof! Hey, what was that for?”
“You earned it! You are the only other medic I’ve ever been interested in. You’re acting like I had a line of them or something.”
“I was just kidding! Honest! No more attacks or I’ll have to subdue you!”
We were still teasing back and forth when the doorbell rang. I answered the door to find Spike there holding a couple of bottles of wine.
“Hey, I didn’t know what we were having so I brought red and white.”
I took them from her and thanked her. Cait showed up then, gave her a hug, and took the wine into the kitchen.
“Want something to drink? We have some wine, beer, soda, anything strike you?”
“Beer would be great, thanks.”
I grabbed us both a beer and we headed outside to chill out. I had kept dinner simple, baked potatoes, shish-ka-bobs, and grilled asparagus. The charcoal was already lit and I was waiting for it to get to the cooking stage. We sat on the patio, just talking about stuff around the station until Cait came out. She pulled a chair up next to me and took my hand before taking my beer and helping herself to a healthy swig.
“Hey! I was drinking that, wench!”
She laughed and smiled at Kristy. “So, how ya been Kristy? Is this one giving you any trouble?” She nodded her head in my direction and took another swig of my beer before she handed it back to me.
“She’s been doing pretty well actually. I know she didn’t want the promotion but she’s doing really well. I’m fine I guess, nothing new really. Just work, work, and more work.”
“Um, hello? I’m right here! You two can stop talking about me like I’m not.” I was teasing, but still, I was sitting right there.
“You aren’t here though, you are in the kitchen getting the kebabs and asparagus and the small cooler.” When I raised my eyebrow at Cait, she continued. “I put some extra beer, ice, and the butter and sour cream for the potatoes in it.” I grinned at her, pleased with the way she prepared things.
“You got it babe. I’ll be right back.”
I dropped a kiss on her head as I handed her my beer and went inside. When I came back out with the supplies and food, the two of them stopped talking.
“What’s going on? Everything alright out here?”
“Yup, we’re fine. Just talking about some stuff to do with my sister. Kristy thinks she might be working too many hours at her second job.” Cait looked concerned and she had the cutest little furrow in her forehead that I just wanted to kiss away.
“I’m sure she’s fine. She just needs to get used to the schedule, right Spike?”
“I dunno Donny. She’s been pulling some serious hours from what I’ve heard. They had some pretty bad calls recently and it sounds like she’s been on every one of them.”
I knew Pauly had taken a second job as a medic for a rural company. She said she liked the extended transport times as it gave her more of a chance to work on her patients. I figured she was saving up for something or wanted to brush up on her skills.
“Hell Spike, we all go through our turns being a shit magnet. It’s just part of the job.”
We all knew the truth of that statement. I had a period that lasted close to six months where I couldn’t go a week without having a fatality of some kind happen around me. It sucked, but that was life on the streets.
Spike shook her head at me, “I think it’s more than that this time. Haven’t you noticed? She’s been short tempered the past couple of weeks. She’s forgetting stuff, wanting to skip protocols, she even snapped at me last shift.”
“I haven’t ridden with her other than that one call the other day. I’ve been paired with Gina. I haven’t had a shift without her for weeks.”
“Well, she even yelled at Tony the other day. You know how much he likes her. He was asking her some questions about her favorite places to eat and she snapped out at him. She did it right in the main bay of the station too, in front of everyone on shift. That just isn’t like her Donny. We have to step in and take some kind of action. The Cap already said he wants us to have a talk with her.”
I looked between Spike and Cait. I was going to have to do the supervisor thing on my lover’s little sister? Talk about a tough spot to be put into by fate.
“Cait, what about you? Have you noticed anything different about Pauly lately? You guys usually talk pretty often, right?” I knew they had but I hadn’t actually heard any phone calls or anything recently.
“I actually haven’t heard from her much. I got an email the other day, short and sweet, no details, just a hello. Sorry baby, I don’t have any idea what is going on with her right now. Frankly, that worries more than her temper flare-ups. She used to talk to me about almost anything, now she forgets to return my calls.”
“I guess that seals it for me Spike. Let’s figure out how we’re going to handle it. Then, let’s get it done fast before it escalates any further. I think Gina is ready to ride with someone else, I’ll take Pauly out with me this week and see if I can get any idea about what’s bugging her.”
“Great, we’ll figure it out. In the meantime, didn’t you two promise me food?”
We switched topics, ate a good meal, and enjoyed the chance to relax with each other. It was nice to be able to socialize from home, as a couple.
I found myself running a twelve-hour shift with Pauly less than a week after the dinner with Spike. I was glad of the chance to partner up with her again, and to investigate what was going on with her. We started the day nice and slowly with breakfast at the usual diner with Tony and Gina. Tony seemed quieter than normal but I attributed that to the early morning as much as his experience with Pauly. I was waiting until a little later in the day to ask her any questions, so I kept my end of the conversation away from anything too personal.
We split after breakfast and Pauly and I headed for the station so I could get some paperwork done. On the way back to the station, we responded to a call for back up from the BLS crew for a potential heart problem. I decided to let Pauly handle the call to see how she did with interacting with the EMT crew.
“Pauly, you got this one? I’d like to sit back and watch the EMT crew work for a report I’m doing.” Yeah, it sounded lame but she wouldn’t know that is was garbage.
“Yeah, sure Donny, I’m cool with it.”
We arrived on location, the patient’s home, and met with the crew in the driveway. There was an EMT in the rig with the patient, a female in her early fifties. The woman was on high flow oxygen, and was in a semi-raised position to help her breathing. I hung back and watched Pauly jump in the rig, attach the leads from the monitor to the patient, and run a strip. She asked for repeated vitals, but her tone wasn’t sharp, just professional. I tried to find any sign of the Pauly I had heard about, but she seemed fine to me.
Pauly made the decision to release the patient back to BLS care. She grabbed her gear and jumped out of the rig so they could get going. I took the monitor from her and we reloaded our stuff in the rig, before pulling out and heading back to base. I hadn’t learned a thing other than that Pauly seemed to be the same competent medic I had known for years.
Later in the shift, Pauly came to me in the office to talk. I was surprised as she hadn’t sought me out since the day she drove to my house.
“Have you got a minute? I’d kind of like to ask you something.”
“Sure, come on in, shut the door if you’d like.”
I leaned back and stretched my upper body. I had never loved a desk less than I did at that moment. Pauly sat in one of the extra chairs scattered around the small table that served as both conference table and desk for the EMT supervisors. I waited for her to start since she had asked to see me.
“Well, I was wondering something. I know that you probably have plans, but could we hang out after work, maybe grab a beer or something? I’d like to talk to you, but not here, if that’s okay.”
Surprised but pleased that she was asking to talk to me, I quickly agreed. “Sure, I haven’t had a chance to hang out with you in a while since I’ve been on training duties. You doing okay Pauly? You aren’t putting in too many hours are you?” I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask something.
“Neah, I’m fine. I’m working a lot, but I get to sleep through a lot of the hours anyway. It isn’t too bad. I’m sure you’ve heard, it seems to be my turn as the shit magnet, but what the hell? We all go through it now and then. I’ll leave to your papers, catch ya later!”
She left the office and I leaned back, puzzled by what had just occurred. Spike had made it seem as if Pauly was on the verge of burnout. What I had witnessed that morning and talking to her in the office didn’t jibe with what had been told to me. I gave up thinking about it and went back to the paperwork with a sigh.
I called Cait and left a message that I would be going out with her sister after work but that I would call when I was free. The rest of the shift went smoothly and we left the station on time, more or less. I followed her to a little bar, not that far from my place, and waited for her as she locked her car.
We made our way into the small neighborhood tavern and found a booth near the back. After ordering a round of lager and some munchies, we made small talk about the shift until the drinks and food arrived.
“So, what’s on your mind Pauly?” I was curious to find out, but it also seemed as if she was stalling.
Pauly fidgeted, playing with her beer bottle, spinning her coaster, looking everywhere but at me.
Finally, I grew tired of the waiting games and said, “Look, you asked me to get together so we could talk. I don’t understand what the problem is Pauly. Did I tick you off some how?”
“Oh, no, it isn’t anything like that Donny. I actually wanted to talk to you for two reasons but I’m not sure how to start.”
“Well, just say it. We’re family, right? Just tell me what’s on your mind and we’ll figure it out.” I was still under the impression that it was about her second job, so perhaps because it wasn’t part of our station issues, she felt weird.
“Well, the first part is work related, sort of at least. I’m kind of worried about someone at the station and I wanted your take on it. I just feel weird since it is one of your friends.”
I motioned at her to continue but she stalled out again. “Pauly, look, if there is something going on that I need to know about, spill it. If not, I don’t want to get involved in something I don’t belong in.”
“No, it isn’t anything like that Donny. I’m really worried, but I don’t know what to do without getting someone ticked at me. I don’t want to fuck things up around the station, but I’m getting worried. You know I took that Mass Casualty Incident Command class last month right?”
I nodded, really wondering where this was headed.
“In the class they talked about the need for Critical Incident Debriefing. I already knew about it because the Captain is such a believer in it. But, they also taught us the warning signs of someone going through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You know, what to look for, how to handle it, that kind of thing. They never told us what to do when it was someone who outranks you, or that you respect, how to help them recognize it.”
Now I was concerned, but I couldn’t figure out who she meant. Surely, she didn’t mean me? I didn’t think I’d been acting strangely. Well, not that kind of strange at least. If it was someone that outranked her, it couldn’t be her that she was talking about.
“Just tell me Pauly, who is it you think is stressed too much?”
“Donny, I think Spike’s having some problems. She hasn’t been sleeping, she isn’t eating well, I can’t tell you the last time I saw her out with the guys from work. She spends all her free time working out at the station, even in her off duty hours. She runs extra calls but she takes charge all the time. She never steps back anymore to let a probie handle things. She never talks or kids around anymore. She’s all business but that isn’t normal for Spike. You’re closer to her, have you noticed anything?”
Damn! First Spike gets Cait and me worried about Pauly, and now Pauly is getting me worried about Spike! What the hell is wrong with the world? “I haven’t seen anything but I’ve been running opposite of her a lot so we could get the new probies up to speed. She seems fine at dinner the other night though.”
“You had dinner with her? Did she actually eat it or push it around? I haven’t seen her eat a full meal in weeks.”
“I guess she didn’t eat all that much, I just figured she was tired. What do you think it’s about? We haven’t had any serious injuries or anything within the house. I don’t know of anything in her personal life, has she cause any bad calls recently?”
Pauly shook her head, “Not that I know of, at least nothing unusual. I’ve been hit with a lot but she hasn’t been my partner for any of it. My shrink said that I should talk to someone else who knows her.” Pauly stopped, as she realized what she had just admitted. “Yeah, about that, I’ve been seeing someone. I had some stuff I had to work out and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. She’s pretty cool, works with a lot of EMS and PD staff, and I’ve learned a lot.
Before I could ask the question, Pauly added, “I haven’t told Cait yet, I didn’t want her to worry.”
Can I just say that my world shifted on its axis a little bit? Pauly in therapy on her own terms and Spike the one with problems? “So, what was that stuff about Tony and you fighting? I heard you almost took his head off a week or so ago?”
She grimaced and rolled her eyes. “He was a jerk! He’s been hitting on me for months and won’t accept that I have no interest in him. I made the mistake of telling him I’m bisexual and not gay. Ever since, he’s been convinced her is the right man for me. He just doesn’t listen and I finally snapped at him about it. I shouldn’t have done it in public and I did apologize for that to him.”
“Oh! It seems I’m getting incomplete data from several sources. I’m really not sure what to do next. I can’t schedule myself to work with Spike, so I guess I’ll have to go to the Cap about her.”
Pauly nodded her head slowly, then she lowered her eyes to the table. “I feel terrible about this, I hope I’m wrong and just over reacting. Can’t you try to talk to her first? I’d hate to see you go the Cap and have it be my imagination.”
I thought about it for a minute and decided on a plan of action. I would have Pauly join me for a dinner with Spike the nest time we all had an evening free. It shouldn’t be too hard to set up, since we were all essentially on the same schedule rotation. After I told her my plan and she agreed, I ordered another round of beer.
After the waiter set it down, I looked over to see Pauly still looking uncomfortable. “Fer cryin’ out loud Pauly, what else is buggin’ you?
She gave me a sheepish smile as a blush spread up her face. “Well, I also owe you an apology. I was upset when you started dating my sister Donny, but I didn’t tell you the entire truth about it. My shrink helped me realize that I had a huge crush on you, but that it was just that, a crush. When I came over that day, I planned on telling you about it and making you choose. Then, I thought of how happy Cait seemed when she told me about you two and I couldn’t do it.”
I didn’t know what to say, so, following some wise kindergarten advice, I said nothing at all.
“I just wanted to apologize for being an ass about it that day. I know that you both have been so much happier since you got together. I love my sister Donny, and I want her to be happy. I was wrapped up in my own fantasy that involved you on a pedestal, not as a real person. I’ve gotten to know you as a person now and I want you to be happy also. I’m really glad the two of you are doing so well.” She changed her voice to a bit of a thug like quality, “But if you hurt her, you deal with me!”
I let out a relieved laugh and agreed to do right by Cait. We talked more easily after that, going over stuff from work and discussing Cait. The waiter brought the check over and I grabbed it, telling her that since she had been so honest, the least I could do was grab the bill. She blushed but agreed, and we parted amicably.
As I drove home, my thoughts were a whirlwind in my head. I didn’t know what to do or believe. I tried to think of any changes in Spike but the truth was, I had been totally involved with what to do about my attraction for Cait. Since we got together I was busy living in the joy of our relationship. I hadn’t really been focused, on Spike or anyone else, other than Cait and myself.
I woke up to the feel of a warm body pressing against mine, as I smelled the familiar scent of Caty’s shampoo. “Hey baby, I didn’t hear you come in. What time is it?”
She kissed me and laid her head on my shoulder. “A little after two in the morning. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Honey, you can wake me anytime. Did something happen on your shift? I’m not complaining, I just didn’t know you were coming over tonight.”
“Just a long night with a lot of chaos. I missed you. I just wanted you to hold me for a little while. Sometimes hearing the stuff I hear just makes me so sad, but then I get so grateful that you’re in my life.”
She let out what sounded like a tiny sob, and I grew more concerned. “What happened? Don’t tell me nothing. You don’t cry over nothing Caty. Let me help, tell me what’s wrong.”
“I lost a baby today. The older sister was babysitting and the baby stopped breathing. She didn’t know what to do, so she called 911. I was on the phones for the second half of my shift and got the call. I talked her through rescue breathing and CPR but nothing worked. The crew called in later and told me that the ER thought it looked like SIDS. I know there is nothing I can do, but I hate when we lose one.”
She started crying in earnest then, and I held her tightly. “It’s okay to cry baby, I’m here, I’ve got you. I love you, and I love that you care so much. I’ve got you.” I kept whispering to her until she finally quieted down and fell asleep.
I lay awake for a while, thinking about how lucky we were. We had each other to talk to when a bad call got to us. I’d had Cait around as a friend for years and we had always talked through the rough calls. I started wondering about who Spike talked to at the end of the day. She hadn’t had a relationship that I was aware of in a decade or more.
When I asked her about dating and what she did in her free time, she told me she was married to the job. She believed that no one outside the job could understand what she saw everyday, but she didn’t want to date anyone on the job and worry about him doing his job. I understood that, but I figured she at least kept company with someone and was just close mouthed about it. What if I was wrong? What if Spike just didn’t talk to anyone? How torn up must she feel inside? I resolved to talk to Cait about it in the morning and let myself relax into sleep with her warmth next to me.
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