Steve is checking the read outs on the plasmapheresis machine in front of him, occasionally flicking at a couple of the tubes to make sure the tiny air bubble floats to where it can be filtered out, when he sees Sandy standing on her toes trying to see through the rows. He tips his head a little more to the side, and her face lights up when she spots him. She leads a guy, undoubtedly a first time donor, to his aisle and has him sit in one of the empty chairs.
One machine over, Sophia glances over her shoulder at them, and then over at Steve, waggling her eyebrows. He rolls his eyes at her, but he chuckles a little anyway. The guy is attractive, albeit a little short, all firm muscles with long brown hair that on anyone else would have been downright girly.
Sandy strolls over, trying to give Sophia a stern look. "You be nice. I mean it." She points at Steve. "You're taking care of him. Poor guy is afraid of needles and barely got his pulse rate low enough to even come back here, especially after I pricked him for the protein and hematocrit tests."
Steve raises his eyebrows. "You sure he should be back here then? If he can't keep his heart rate down..."
"I know, but I think it's worth the risk of an NDA. He's pretty determined, too." She crosses her arms and makes the face she uses when she's about to strong arm him into something. Sandy's tiny, and adorable, but he learned pretty quickly that she gets what she wants. "Besides, everyone knows you're the best. You find the vein when everyone else misses it, and you're like a magician with the machines. If anyone can keep him calm and get him through a full donation, and convince him to come back? It'll be you."
Sophia snickers as she continues popping tubes into place. "She's gotcha now. It's a matter of pride!" Sandy's already skipping off to the front, her mission accomplished.
"No," he says to Sophia, heading towards the new guy.
"What?" Sophia says, drawing out the word as though it could possibly convince him of her innocence.
"No bets," he says. "I mean it."
She pouts at him, pausing for just a moment to put a hand on her hip. "You're no fun, Carlson."
"Hi there," he says, giving the guy his most friendly smile. "I just need your full name and the last four digits of your social."
The guy blinks up at him for a second, eyes wide and biting his lip. A deer in headlights would look more confident. "What?" he asks weakly. It doesn't suit him, Steve thinks; a voice like that is meant for more. Singing, maybe. Or sex.
Steve shoves that last thought aside and gestures with the chart. "I need your full name and the last four digits of your social security number before we can go on. Unless you'd rather not? You don't have to do this." He tries to sound reassuring. Whatever Sandy might want, he just can't find it in himself to push this guy into something so obviously uncomfortable.
"No, no," he says quickly, licking his lips a little. "I... I can do this." He swallows and clears his throat. "Christian Kane. F-five four three seven."
Steve nods, double checking everything on the sheet before he initials it and sets it on top of the machine. "I'm Steve," he says amiably. "Sandy already explained everything for you, right?" Christian nods. "Ok, I'm going to set up your machine. It won't take me very long, but you should try and relax, ok?" Christian just nods again, already worrying at his lip and fidgeting. Maybe a little conversation would help. "So what do you do?"
"Um. I'm a musician," Christian says, blushing a little. As he talks, his words seem to pick up speed, a southern drawl sliding in. Steve can't help but smile to himself for being right. "Well. Right now I'm acting, but my first love is music. It's just I can't seem to catch a break, but I play a few gigs at a few bars sometimes, and I get enough roles to get the rent paid. That's about all though. LA's a bit harder to manage, it ain't like back home. Course, they like country music better'n Oklahoma, so it'd explain a bit. Ain't gonna get anywhere stayin' there though. Uh. Not that I seem to be gettin' anywhere here either, but everythin' in baby steps right?" He seems to realize he's babbling and his mouth snaps shut. But he's stopped fidgeting, at least.
Steve tries to not think about the fact that it's completely adorable. He's got everything hooked up, now. The easy part's over. Picking up the inflatable cuff, he rests his other hand lightly on Christian's arm. "I need to slip this on. It'll get a little tight, but you need to pump your fist til I say. So do you do theater? Or..."
Christian looks a little uncomfortable about the cuff, his features tightening as the machine whirs and inflates it, but he starts talking again. "Whatever they'll gimme, really. I mean, I guess I'd rather do film, if I can land it. But it ain't like beggars can be choosers. Long as it pays the rent, and it ain't gonna get me killed. Well, uh, I guess I wouldn't say no to stunts, either, but I ain't got any training so they won't hire me for that."
"Make a tight fist," Steve says. Christian does, without his words slowing down. Even if his breath hitches a little when Steve runs his fingers over the inside of his arm to find the vein.
"Actually, I've got some fight training, but there's a lot of better trained fighters so there ain't a reason to hire a guy like me just for that. I'd like to though. Y'know. Someday. If I could get the right role, I'd like to do fighting. It's not greedy to want both right? A music career and an acting career, I mean?"
Steve can't help but look up at him and smile as he starts swabbing his arm with iodine. "Why not? I mean, if you're good at both, why not do both? Sounds like it'd be a blast."
Christian's eyes wander down to what Steve's doing. He blinks, a little, at the size and swallows. "Why... are you... the needle's not..."
"No, no. It's just procedure, to make sure there's no chance of infection." He tries to make the motion of his hand gentle instead of clinical, but if it has an affect on Christian, he can't see it. Steve can't help the tinge of guilt for the fact that there's nothing left but to put in the needle. "It helps not to look," he says, and rips open the bag with the needle.
"Er. Right." Christian pales a little, biting his lip and turning his face away. He's obviously tense, obviously trying not to fidget more.
"Tight fist again," Steve says, running a thumb over the vein one more time just to be sure and trying not to smile when Christian shivers a little again. "Y'know, I'm a musician myself. I sing, some, play guitar mostly. I also play piano and the mandolin." As he says mandolin, he slides the needle in, smooth and perfect, and tapes the tubing down. Christian hisses a little, his jaw clenched, a half choked squeaky noise barely escaping as the only evidence that he felt it go in at all. "You can relax your hand now." Steve hooks on the small vial for his blood test.
"What, uh, what style do you play?" Christian asks, trying to look at Steve without looking at the needle. Or the vial.
"A little of this, a little of that." Steve says, and he can feel his cheeks tinging pink. He detaches the vial, making a few notes on the side, and on Christian's paperwork. "I guess I'm influenced most by the Beatles, but I dunno." Steve makes quick work of connecting the tubes to the machine now. "I guess I'm more interested in telling a story. The song is whatever it is, whatever it needs to be, y'know?"
Christian smiles at that. Of course that's when the machine turns on, whirring and clicking, beeping occasionally as Steve tweaks the settings. He shifts a little. "Is it...?"
"Completely normal," Steve assures him. "Ok, when the cuff tightens, like it is now, you'll need to pump your fist. See the lights here? You want to make sure they're lit all the way up to the top. When that part of the cycle is done, the cuff will loosen and the lights will turn off, then you have to relax your hand." Christian nods, face tight but determined. "Does it feel alright? Cuff's not too tight or anything?"
"I guess?" Christian looks uncomfortable again, like he's trying really hard not to think about the needle still attached to his arm. "How... how long is this supposed to work again?"
"Some people are faster than others. It might take as long as two hours, but if you're very well hydrated, it could go a lot faster."
"Oh," Christian says, his voice kind of small, and the machine beeps twice at the heart rate spike.
"It's not so bad," Steve says. "Just keep breathing. If you freak out too much, the machine will stop itself and it'll take longer. Deep breaths. In and out. That's it." He watches Christian slowly force himself to relax and checks the machine. "A lot of people bring something else they can focus on. Books, or iPods or something. So long as you don't go to sleep."
Christian laughs. It's a little strained, but it's genuine. "I don't think that'll be a problem."
Steve bites his lip and thinks for a moment. "I could let you borrow mine. I've got it in my locker in the break room. Y'know, if you wanted. If it'd help."
"You sure?" Christian looks surprised, and maybe touched.
"Yeah, absolutely. I'll be right back." Steve waves off the raised eyebrow from Sophia and jogs back to the break room. It's ridiculous, doing this for someone he doesn't even know, someone that could potentially walk away with his iPod and never show his face again, but he can't help the feeling it's worth the risk. He grabs the iPod and heads back out.
Christian's just starting to fidget again, trying to look anywhere but at the machines around him but not quite able to keep his eyes fixed on the staticy tv attached to the ceiling. Not that Steve can blame him, it's playing Australia anyway. He tries to smile, though, when Steve walks up, holding the iPod out for him. "Thanks," he murmurs, and now he's definitely blushing, though he looks a bit lost as to how to get the headphones on one-handed.
"Here, let me," Steve says. He leans over him just enough to brush Christian's hair back from his face and tuck it behind his ears, then sliding the headphones into place. And if the backs of his fingers brush against Christian's cheeks, well, the only sign that anyone notices is the way Chris looks up at him like he might kiss him.
When Steve straightens up he gets jabbed in the shoulder. Twice. He doesn't need to turn around to know it's Sophia, he can hear her tapping her foot. "You're supposed to be working y'know. We've got two more chairs."
"Sorry," Christian murmurs, embarrassed, his thumb running over the iPod controls. "I didn't mean to keep you from..." He makes a vague hand motion with the iPod. He looks ever so slightly pale again. "Stuff."
"Nothing to apologize for," Steve says. He squeezes Christian's shoulder, though he's much rather be running his fingers through that soft brown hair again. "If you need anything, or start panicking again, just call for me, ok?" Christian nods, but Steve just can't pull himself away yet. "I hate to leave you here when you're still so nervous... I could, maybe, make it up to you?" Steve bites his lip, but the words slip out all on their own when Christian looks up at him again. "Maybe with dinner?"