This shift was dragging on forever.
Judy had had that thought about twice an hour since she first clocked in.
In the year she’d worked as an EMT, she couldn’t recall a single time they’d gone this long without a call. She was on the night shift, as the person with least seniority when it came to scheduling requests, and usually that meant she was there for the weirdest calls.
People who’d been in places they shouldn’t have without enough light to see by. People who’d stuck things in themselves they shouldn’t have.
Those were always her favorite. Least likely to do permanent damage, while the most likely to entertain her family when asked to regale them with gross medical stories.
Well, her sister.
It was important to the family to maintain the illusion that Will as still a kid, so Judy supported that fiction by keeping her stories PG, and allowed her parents to hold on to that belief just a little longer. Will himself was doing so little to uphold the illusion, its collapse was truly inevitable.
But this shift was not living up to previous experience. They hadn’t left the station house once tonight, but it’s not as if they could truly relax either. You never knew when that klaxon would go off and send them scrambling to the scene of some accident or another.
So Judy sat, rising to do a lap of the station house or a set of push-ups every hour or so, careful not to exhaust herself the way she was wont to do on days off, when she hit the gym. It would hardly do to spend all her energy here, then be sluggish out on a call.
After what felt like another eternity, the alarm sounded, and Judy and her partner jumped up to head to the ‘buses and race out of there.
Judy sometimes felt uncharitable, getting excited by these calls, because it meant someone else was hurt or in danger, but she figured that was the sort of detachment that would make her a good doctor one day. There was no great sin in enjoying her job, after all.
What felt like mere moments later, they were pulling up outside a building downtown. Now that they’d arrived, Judy realized she'd actually been here before. A few weeks ago, a fight at this bar had ended at the hospital, when someone had put a beer bottle through another person’s side. They hadn't been able to be treated at the scene, but Judy had found out the next day from a friend at the hospital they'd been transferred to that they were on the mend.
What fresh idiocy is this? Judy thought as she hopped out of the passenger seat to assess the situation.
Whatever happened, it looked as though it had brought the good times to an end. People were closing their tabs and gathering their coats as Judy and her partner entered the bar.
“I'm fine, Tam. You didn't need to call an ambulance,” a voice could be heard over the din.
Judy turned to Aiko, who always drove when they were both on duty. She nodded her head in the direction of the voice and started walking that way, knowing her partner would be right behind her.
She took a few steps, the crowd seemed to part, and then... she saw him.
Judy was far too professional to get tripped up by a cute guy, but damn.
If this were a movie, this moment would be in slow motion. But instead, Judy didn't miss a step walking towards her patient.
“Hello,” she greeted the pretty bleeding man and his companion, “What's happened?”
“Nothing, I’m f-”
“You’re not fine, dumbass,” the man’s friend (girlfriend? Judy wondered) cut off his protest. She turned to face Judy and Aiko, who had joined them.
“So my friend here steps away from our table for like a minute. He sees some shit about to go down and hauls his ass over there. Some dude's about to pick up a chair and hit somebody with it! Don steps in - somehow, nobody else gets hurt, but he gets thunked on the backswing.”
“I'm pretty much fine; You didn't need to call anybody,” the man who must be Don mumbled from his seat.
“You're bleeding all over the damn place - of course I needed to call!” his friend snapped. Don seemed to see she was genuinely worried about him and subsided.
Judy took a step closer and let her training take over.
“Alright, Don, is it? I’m Judy and this is Aiko, and we're here to help. I can see that your nose is broken. Are you hurt anywhere else?” Judy asked as she began to palpate the sides of his nose to feel the break.
“Wait, wait, you mean like, broken-broken?” Don asked.
“See, good thing I didn't listen to you!” his friend snapped. “If you had it your way, you'd have just taken a few more drinks, and then your face would look like this forever.”
Aiko had taken that moment to check around to see if anyone else had been hurt. Finding no one, she returned to see Judy and her patient arguing.
“I have to set it, otherwise your face really will get stuck like this,” she bit off.
“I know, I just - just give me a minute,” Don practically whined.
“You big baby, just let the woman do her job,” his friend threw in from beside him.
He sighed, gave a nod to Judy, then braced himself on his chair.
With an audible crack it was done.
“Owowowowow” he mumbled under his breath.
“See, there. Finished,” Judy spoke over him. “Now, are you hurt anywhere else?”
“Aside from my whole face throbbing? No,” he responded shortly.
“Aiko can give you something for that,” Judy continued in her calm professional tone. She turned to tilt her head at Aiko, who went through her bag for an analgesic she could give him without a doctor.
“What about your head? Any nausea, dizziness?”
“Do you know today's date?”
“November 15th. I know who the president is, too, but please don't make me say it,” Don added sarcastically.
Judy chuckled. Then immediately tried to snap back into professional mode, but it was too late. Don chuckled too, and the slightly hostile atmosphere dissipated.
“Listen,” he began, “I'm sorry about all - just, thanks, doc. And,” he turned to his friend, “thanks for calling them Tam.”
“Well don’t get all mushy on me.” The woman, Tam, reached over and ruffled her friend’s hair. He flapped a hand at her in a token show of resistance, but didn't put up any further protest.
“No need to apologize." Judy offered her own reply. “Like I said, I'm here to help. And I'm not a doctor. Not yet, anyway” By the time she was done, she’d turned away and hunched her shoulders a bit.
Don turned back to her with a smile that would have knocked her socks off if she had been looking directly at it.
“Well, whatever they call you, I really am glad you were here. I owe you one.”
Aiko stepped in to give Judy a moment. She handed Don a packet with a few pills.
“Here’s something for the pain. It's over the counter. When you get home ice your face. That bruising will get worse before it gets better.” She turned towards Tam. “If you notice any dizziness, nausea, or confusion, you should go to the hospital.”
“I’ll make sure he gets home ok,” she assured the two EMTs.
“Have a good rest of your night, then.” Aiko nodded, then turned to go. Judy followed, but not without one more look at Don.
He gave a wave and small smile, and then they were back out on the street in the bracing cold air.
“So...” Aiko began, “he was cute.”
“Shut up!” Judy gave her a small shove before clambering back into her seat on the passenger side.
As Aiko got back behind the wheel, she turned to her friend.
“But yeah,” Judy admitted in a small voice, “he was.”