WIP Wednesday – NaNoWriMo
Hey, all! So since I finally got going on my NaNoWriMo project, I thought I’d share an excerpt with you guys for WIP Wednesday. This is the very beginning of the story when my two MCs meet in a rather unconventional way.
Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
“Hey! Somebody call an ambulance!”
Gabe’s head jerked up at the shout. He looked over to see some type of commotion happening near the bar. A group of guys stood in a half-circle, staring down at something on the floor. Someone yelled for an ambulance again.
“Fuck.” Gabe chugged down the dregs of his beer and pushed back from his table. Didn’t it always fucking figure? His first day off in a week thanks to another paramedic quitting at the end of his shift last Friday, and he hadn’t even been at the bar for fifteen minutes before some schmuck had to go and get injured somehow.
Javier, the firefighter Gabe had come to the bar to watch the hockey game with, returned from the john just as Gabe pulled a pair of latex-free gloves from his inner jacket pocket. Carrying a few pairs was a force of habit after more than a decade working as a first responder. Shit happened when least expected and it always paid to be prepared, especially when the bodily fluids were flowing. Or, more likely in his occupation, gushing.
“What’s up?” Javi asked.
Gabe shook his head and started toward the group, knowing Javi would follow. As a firefighter who’d cross-trained as an EMT, Javier knew enough to lend a hand if it came to that. Gabe pushed through the gawkers without any pardons or excuse-me-pleases. Now was not the time for niceties. He could barely manage them on the best of days, let alone when he was exhausted after seven straight days of twelve-hour shifts.
A guy lay on his side in the middle of the circle, seizing, blood covering his mouth and chin. That in itself wasn’t totally alarming. Gabe had seen enough seizures to know if the tongue got bit, there’d be a mess. He glanced at the guy’s crotch, checking for urine, but saw nothing. It didn’t always happen, but it was second nature to check. The people who were pretending didn’t usually think to piss themselves to make it more convincing.
Another guy knelt next to Seizure Guy, his hands clenched tight at his sides, brow furrowed in worry. Gabe could tell he wanted to reach out to the one who was seizing, but he was either frozen in fear or he knew better than to try to hold someone having a seizure down. Gabe didn’t care which. He just hoped the guy kept his hands off.
“Got a clean towel?” he asked the bartender as he snapped on his gloves. The guy nodded, reached under the bar top, and tossed him a small, grayish towel. It had seen better days, but right then Gabe wasn’t expecting a sterile work environment. He just wanted to staunch the blood flow long enough to see if there were any serious injuries.
Gabe got down on his knees. The guy’s violent jerking had slowed to a few sporadic twitches. The other one whispered soothingly and reached out a shaky hand, smoothing dark hair off Seizure Guy’s forehead. “Come on, baby. Come on. Come back.”
Ah. Boyfriend, then. Gabe assigned him the label without another thought. It was what they all did in lieu of names in situations like these. Might seem cold or unsympathetic, but a trauma scene usually wasn’t the place for introductions and “how-do-you-dos?”. Nicknaming people based on their injuries made the most sense, and it kept things organized in his head.
Seizure Guy’s random twitches stopped. After a moment, his eyes blinked open, hazy and unfocused, one green, one hazel. The disparity was enough to make Gabe freeze for a moment before he snapped back into action. He took Seizure Guy’s shoulder in hand and gently turned him onto his back. Then he spared a quick glance at the boyfriend. “You know him, I’m assuming? This ever happened before?”
The guy nodded. “Yeah. He has epilepsy. Are you a doctor or something?”
“Medic. Anything else I should know?” Gabe briefly inspected the medical alert bracelet on Seizure Guy’s wrist. It was subtle, matte black and stainless steel, and stylish enough to pass for a regular piece of jewelry to the untrained eye, but Gabe had been in medicine long enough to spot the asklepian symbol at ten paces.
“Not that I’m aware of.”
Gabe reached for Seizure Guy’s chin and dabbed at it with the towel. The skin was split, the shine of bone visible underneath. He’d probably cracked it on the edge of the bar when he fell. A gruesome looking wound, and one definitely requiring stitches, but nothing life-threatening.
“Anyone call an ambulance yet?” Gabe asked as he slid his gloved fingers into Seizure Guy’s thick hair, feeling along his scalp for any other possible injuries.
There was a round of muttering and then someone shouted yes from the back of the group.
“Call it off. I’m a paramedic. Ambulance eleven. Last name Favero. Tell them we’ll get him to the hospital.”
The boyfriend looked at him in surprise, but Gabe had been a paramedic long enough to know that most experienced epilepsy patients would only be pissed and embarrassed at having an ambulance called and being carted off on a stretcher when this was something they dealt with on a regular basis. The postictal stage didn’t last very long, and as soon as the guy was fully cognizant again, he’d probably nix the ambulance idea with a vengeance.
Gabe didn’t bother explaining his reasoning. “What’s his name?”
Gabe pressed the towel against the gash on Simon’s chin and held it there, peering down into his eyes, searching for signs of awareness. In his experience with epilepsy patients, he knew Simon should be conscious enough to answer questions by this point, even if he might not remember afterward. “Simon? Can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”
Simon blinked slowly, gaze still clouded by confusion. After a second, he spoke, his voice somewhat garbled. “Y-yeah. Hear you.”
“Can you tell me where you’re hurt?”
Simon’s forehead wrinkled. “Mouth…head…chin.”
“Yeah, you split your chin open. We’re going to need to get you to the hospital. It has to be stitched.”
Simon nodded groggily. “Okay. No ambulance.”
“Nope, no ambulance.” Gabe looked up to see Javi standing nearby. “You okay to drive to Northwestern or should we get a taxi?”
“I’m good. Didn’t even finish my beer. Advocate is closer, though.”
Gabe shook his head. “I don’t know the staff there. The bleeding’s already stopped on this. He’ll be good for the drive.”
“All right. I’ll pull around front.”
Javi took off back toward their table as Simon struggled to sit up. Gabe dropped the blood-stained towel and got a hand behind his shoulder blades to hold him steady. Most of the crowd had begun to disperse now that it was evident the guy wasn’t about to keel over dead or give them any more of a show.
“Hey,” the boyfriend said. “Thanks, but I can take him. We’ll grab a taxi. There’s no need for—”
Gabe arched an eyebrow at him. “You want to sit in the ER all night? I can take you in the back way, have him in a room in less than five minutes.”
After a second, the boyfriend nodded. “Fine.” He leaned closer to Simon and wrapped an arm around his waist. Gabe pulled his own hand away and stood, ready to step in and help if needed, but the guy got Simon up onto his feet without any mishaps.
“I can walk by myself, Marco,” Simon muttered as the boyfriend started ushering him to the door.
“He have a jacket?” Gabe called after them. It was mid-October in Chicago and Simon’s thin T-shirt wouldn’t offer much protection against the drizzly chill outside.
“Oh, shit.” The boyfriend—Marco—glanced over his shoulder and tipped his chin toward one of the bar stools. “Can you grab that? And mine’s right next to it.”
Gabe grunted as he stripped off his gloves. He shoved them into his pocket so he could pick up the jackets Marco had indicated. He knew Javi well enough to trust the guy had grabbed his own stuff from their table before he left. The bill they could settle later; they came to Rowley’s often enough. If Simon and Marco had started a tab, well, that was their problem.
He followed them to the door and waited while Marco took the jackets from him and pulled on his own, then helped Simon into his. There was a moment of tension when they got to Javier’s SUV and Marco tried to insist on being in the back with Simon. Gabe just sighed. “Look, man, we don’t have time for this shit. I’m the medic. I’ll sit with him in case something unexpected happens. We’re not at a club. I’m not trying to steal your boyfriend.”
Marco opened his mouth, but a beep cut him off as the driver waiting behind Javi laid into his horn. Javi gestured to them and Marco grudgingly got into the passenger seat while Simon and Gabe slipped into the back. Simon leaned against the seat and closed his eyes as Javi pulled out into traffic. He was clearly in pain and he still looked a little dazed.
“How’s your head?” Gabe asked.
“Hurts,” Simon answered, his voice slurring. Swollen tongue, probably. “Always does after.”
“How long have you been having the seizures?”
Gabe wanted to ask more, but he knew better than to keep the guy talking when every movement obviously caused him pain. The gash on his chin was like something out of a horror flick with the bone showing through. Hurt like a bitch, no doubt, but it was a classic case of “looks worse than it is.” Maybe half a dozen stitches at worst, and if Gabe got him in to see Munoz, he’d barely have a scar to show for it.
Good thing, too. It would be a pity to scar up that face. Now that Gabe had a chance to take proper stock of the guy, he could acknowledge that much. It wasn’t a perfect face, no. Simon’s nose was a bit too wide at the tip. But high cheekbones, straight brows, and a strong, rounded chin complemented what was probably the prettiest mouth Gabe had ever seen. Full and somehow vulnerable with an intriguing little dip in the center of the upper lip. His hair was an indeterminate color in the dimness of the car’s interior—some shade of brown, Gabe thought—but the dark waves flopped over his forehead in a sexy, careless style, partially shading one eye. The green one if Gabe remembered correctly. And those eyes were as interesting as the rest of his features, fascinating in their lack of symmetry.
That mouth, that face, and the body Gabe had scoped out as Marco led Simon outside, it wasn’t a surprise his boyfriend was protective. Any other time or place and Gabe probably would’ve made a play. Dating didn’t mean exclusive. Gabe had fucked enough boyfriends, separately and together, to hammer that point home. But he’d never tried anything with a patient, and he wasn’t about to start now, despite how unofficial this was. He’d get Simon pushed to the front of the line at Northwestern and call his responsibility done. Maybe he and Javi could even be back at Rowley’s to catch the second half of the game, and Gabe could find someone young, willing, and bendable to help him work out some of the built-up strain after a week of back-to-back shifts. A perk of Rowley’s being the only gay sports bar in town, there was never any shortage of guys looking to get fucked. If he was lucky, his entire evening wouldn’t end up a complete bust.