**Another prompt! Two EMTs meet for drinks after a horrendous day. Enjoy!**
It had been a shit day. No, worse than shit. The worst freaking day I’d ever had on the job. And that was saying something, because I’d been an EMT for going on fifteen years.
We’d been going nonstop since we clocked in this morning, and an eight hour shift had turned into twelve when an accident on the freeway turned into a seven car pile up. I was exhausted, not only from that last part, but from the rest of the day. We’d lost two heart attack patients en route despite Paul’s masterful driving and the sirens blaring. A child burned by boiling water I was afraid wouldn’t pull through. A young man, dressed in pink and glitter, beaten almost beyond recognition. At least he’d given me a smile before he passed out.
Worst day I’d ever had, and I knew Paul was feeling the strain just as badly. He was silent as he restocked the bus, making sure we once again had plenty of gauze, IV tubing, needles, gloves. We’d gone through more than average today. And my usually chatty partner wasn’t saying a word, banging around in the back.
I caught him when he jumped down, boots thudding on the concrete floor of the bay. He looked up at me with a vacant stare in his usually warm brown eyes.
“Hey, let’s head over to Jake’s and have a beer.”
Paul scowled and shook his head. “I’m… nah. I’m just gonna head home.”
That’s exactly what he didn’t need. I knew Paul better than he thought, and he needed to decompress some before he closed himself up at home. Otherwise, the images from today would haunt him. I wanted to avoid that at all costs, if I could.
I took a step closer into his space, almost crowding him up against he back of the bus, but not quite. He glanced around quickly. “Martin.”
“It’s fine,” I soothed. “But come meet me at Jake’s, okay? Just a beer. Maybe some wings. Just to wind down.”
It took him a minute to agree, but then he gave a nod and pushed away, striding toward the locker room so he could get out of his uniform. I gave him a good ten minutes before following him in. By that time, he was almost done, and ready to head out. He gave me a wave, called to a few other guys, and left. I went about my business and then did the same, driving right to the bar that was halfway between my place and the station.
I was relieved to see Paul’s beat up Bronco in the lot.
I found him inside, slumped at a table in the corner with a plate of nachos and two bottles of beer. I slid in across from him. He spared me a quick glance, but he kept his gaze focused on his food.
“You all right?” I kept my voice low, just loud enough to be heard over the ambient din. Jake’s wasn’t overly crowded at this time on a Tuesday night. The weekends were different. But there was a reason it was our preferred hang out.
“Yeah.” Paul blew out an explosive breath and finally looked at me. He offered a weak smile. “I will be. Just, man, a hell of a day.”
“Yeah, it was.” I leaned forward. “When we get home, I’ll help you forget the day. Maybe a long bath, hm? Or just right to bed. What do you say?”
The last of the tension drained out of him, and he sat back with a smile. Fifteen years on the job together, ten years of loving and living with him, I knew exactly what he needed. We’d had to keep it quiet at work just because they would have split us up had they known we were anything more than roommates. Truth was, they probably did know, but since we were careful not to flaunt it, and it never affected our performance, they looked the other way.
“Thanks, babe.” Paul’s voice was soft, and he slouched down a bit so he could push his foot against my ankle. Let me know he was there. “That sounds perfect.”
I nodded, reached out, and squeezed his hand quickly before I scooped up up some nachos. “Enjoy the beer and the nachos. Watch the game. And then I’ll meet you at home and we’ll take care of each other.”
A grateful sigh, a small smile, and Paul settled in to do just that. I watched him more than the game. Anything he needed, I would do. And I knew I’d be happy to do that for the rest of my life.
Paul glanced at me and the look I got, the flash of love and gratitude, let me know he was happy to do the same.