In a big hospital it was easy to forget things, normally they were tiny things like which bed a patient was in or whether it was taco day in the cafeteria. The thing that most people never forgot was their soulmate or at least that knowledge that they had one somewhere, the counting clocks on everyone’s wrists made it kind of hard to. Not that had stopped Alex, or rather Dr.Gaskarth, expect no one called him that yet, he was only an intern after all. No Alex barely noticed the timer ticking down on his wrist, he’d been so busy at the hospital and trying to keep on top of his textbooks that he had no idea the clock had got into the single digits some time ago.
On the day Alex’s timer had gone from days to hours he was working, running about the hospital trying to stop various people from dying.
“Gaskarth, Mrs Williams needs 50g of morphine stat and then Mr Mitchell needs an X-ray on his chest oh and finally I really need a coffee, no cream, two sugars, you know the drill.”
“Yes Dr.Hellman,” Alex replied, scribbling down all his jobs.
“Then get on with it.”
Alex nodded and rushed off. It was pretty much the life of an intern to run about doing all the jobs than no one else wanted, Alex didn’t mind though, he was happy to learn even if it was with the likes of Dr.Hellman.
He returned twenty minutes later, tasks all done and coffee still hot. Dr.Hellman took his drink and sipped it before speaking.
“Not bad kid but I could have done it in fifteen,” he said.
“Now I’ve got a real test for you, all that running around you’ve been doing has been easy up to now. You’re going to be doing some work in the clinic, see some patients, figure out what’s wrong with them, admit the ones that are sick and throw out the ones that aren’t. Got it?”
Alex nodded nervously, he’d never had to do anything like that alone before.
“Off you go then, they’re waiting for you Doctor.”
Alex went off again, trying to keep himself calm as he thought about the job at hand, what’s the worst that could happen? Well he could miss something and send home the wrong person and they could die… No wonder Alex hadn’t noticed that his timer had only minutes left.
“Miss Ramsey please,” Alex asked, trying to keep his voice from shaking.
A young lady got up holding very tightly to her right arm, okay broken bones he could handle.
“I’m Dr.Gaskarth, what seems to be the problem?” He asked once she’d stepped inside the exam room.
“I woke up this morning to an incredible pain in my arm and I haven’t been able to move it since,” she explained.
Alex did a short examination and it seemed she had dislocated her shoulder in her sleep, rare but possible. He send her off with some pain medication to specialist who could put it back for her. After his first patient Alex’s confidence grew a bit as he addressed his next appointment.
“Mr Barakat?” God he hoped he’d said that right.
A young man stood up, probably not much younger than Alex himself. He was tall, dark haired, with equally dark eyes.
Alex lead the man into the room where he took a seat on the exam table, he was looking very pale and ill.
“Hello, I’m Doctor Gaskarth, how can I help you?” Alex asked.
“I had this cold and it just won’t go away,” the man explained before dissolving into a fit of coughs.
“Do you mind if I just listen to your chest?” Alex asked, removing the stethoscope from around his neck.
“Go ahead,” the man said, rolling up his shirt.
Alex started by placing the cold metal on the man’s back and listening to him cough before doing the same on his chest, catching a glimpse on a Jack Skellington tattoo to one side.
“Okay it sounds like there’s some liquid in your lungs, that’s nothing to be scared of, it’s probably just a severe case of bronchitis but I’d like to just take your temperature to make sure.”
Alex removed a thermometer from it’s packaging and placed in the man’s mouth. It beeped a moment later and Alex frowned at the reading.
“Something wrong?” Mr Barakat asked before coughing again.
The man’s temperature was rather high, higher than normally associated with bronchitis which meant it could be pneumonia which was a whole lot worse and a lot more dangerous. Alex had a choice to make, let the man go and hope it just a high fever and would go down on it’s own or admit it him for observation.
“It seems you’re running a very high fever and I’d like to keep you here for observation or until it comes down to less dangerous level,” Alex explained.
“Oh.. Hmm, okay,” the man replied.
“I’ll fill in the paperwork and let one of the nurses find you a bed.”
“Thank you Doctor.”
Alex lead Mr Barakat back out and left him one of the nurses and instructions on what meds to give him before going and picking up the next chart and starting all over again.
After a total of nearly four hours and fifteen patients Alex was able to track a break, collapsing at one of the cafeteria tables opposite his friend Rian Dawson.
“Long morning huh?” Rian asked, looking up from his mac ‘n’ cheese.
“You could say that,” Alex replied.
“I spend most of today holding the fat on one guy’s heart surgery…”
Rian was a surgical intern and as much as Alex disliked some of the stuff he had to do at least there was it wasn’t as much blood.
“I’m trying to eat here,” Alex said, taking a bit of his sandwich.
It was only as Alex ate that he pushed down the sleeves of his scrubs, in an effort not to get them covered in tomato sauce that Rian noticed something.
“Alex you’re flashing!”
“What?” Alex asked, with a mouthful of food.
“Your timmer, it’s flashing!”
Alex looked at his left wrist and sure enough the clock on his wrist was flashing a little red light and the numbers had all reached zero.
“Oh…” was all he could think to say.
“Don’t look at me man, mine finished when I was 11,” Rian said.
Some people like Rian met their soulmates early in life, he’d met Cassadee on holiday in California with his family nearly thirteen years ago and they’d been married for three.
“But then who?” Alex asked.
His eyes scanned the cafeteria trying to see if someone was having the same reaction as him but everyone was calm.
“If might not have been now, if you didn’t notice it could have stopped hours ago,” Rian said.
“Then how I suppose to find them?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know, what have you done today? Maybe you can trace them,” Rian suggested.
“Well I was running around patients for Dr.Hellman first thing then I’ve been in the clinic, I must have seen like twenty patients this morning,” Alex said.
“Well you better get a move on then,” Rian said.
“Aren’t you going to help?” Alex asked.
“I can’t, I’ve got surgery all afternoon but good luck, I hope you find them.”
Alex took one last bite of his sandwich before running off again. Though Alex had never been overly bothered about his timer before he didn’t want to miss his chance, this was his soulmate after all, he didn’t want to lose them.
Alex had gotten through five patients, all woman all with timers still counting, expect one old woman who spend ten minutes telling Alex about her husband when Dr.Hellman had caught up to him.
“Didn’t I ask you to get Mr Miller’s tox results over half an about ago?” He asked.
“I believe you did,” Alex replied.
“Then where are they?” The Doctor asked, arms crossed over his chest.
“You better get on it then and when you’ve done that Miss Taylor in ward nine needs some blood taken and the patient in three b needs tests run for leukemia.”
“Yes Doctor,” Alex replied.
“There’s a good newbie,” he said before walking off to annoy some other intern.
Alex sighed and began the walk down to the lab, it seemed his soulmate was destine to wait a bit longer.
A bit longer ended up turning into the rest of the afternoon. Dr Hellman had Alex running all over the place, he barely had time to catch his breathe matter about check out his patients from earlier. His timer was still flashing a constant reminder that he’d missed his time. Alex just wanted to go back to his own bed and sleep, maybe for a week he didn’t care. He tried to think positive and that if his soulmate was out there that they’d meet again one day but he couldn’t help being doubtful. Alex was all for giving up and going home having just finished by the last of Dr.Hellman’s tasks when his beeper went off.
Alex may have been working within the hospital for several months but the sound of his beeper going off always send his heart racing. It could mean a few things, Dr.Hellman needed him, he’d fucked up or someone was dying. He raced through the wards until he arrived at a patient's bed with a nurse standing there, it was the patient he’d admitted earlier with the high fever and bronchitis.
“What’s the problem?” Alex asked the nurse.
“His fever is spiking and he’s having difficulty breathing, the antibiotics don’t seem to be having any effect,” she explained.
Alex bit his lip and looked at the man lying in the bed, he seemed worse than when he’d entered the hospital, the reverse of what was suppose to happen and Alex couldn't help being partly responsible. Trouble breathing was quite typical of bronchitis but such a high fever wasn’t there was more usually…
“Pneumonia… Nurse he needs oxygen and fluids, motrin and a cold cloth to get that fever down.”
The nurse left and Alex flicked through the patient's chart, trying to make sure he hadn’t missed anything. He found the man’s first name was Jack, he was twenty four years old and that he had a history of bronchitis and chest problems, making his pneumonia not only less of a surprise but a whole lot more dangerous.
The nurse had returned with the oxygen and Alex placed the mask over Jack’s face, Alex noticed the obvious wheezing in Jack’s breathing and wondered how he could have missed it. If he’d just send Jack to get a chest x-ray maybe he wouldn’t be here with a dangerously high fever.
It’s when Alex is placing the IV in Jack’s arm that he notices Jack’s timmer. It’s on all zeroes with the little red light flashing.
“You’ve got to be kidding…”
Alex looked back at his own wrist and the red light stopped blinking, the sign that he had indeed found his soulmate.
“Well you better not die on me now,” Alex said, putting the cool cloth on Jack’s forehead.
“Gaskarth, there you are, I was about to page you.”
Dr Hellman appeared, arms crossed over his chest and looking unimpressed. Alex sighed and turned to face him.
“What is it?” Alex asked, trying to hide his annoyance.
“I need someone to go and disimpact Mr Evans and you drew the short straw.”
Alex sighed and he’d had enough of being ordered around by Dr.Hellman, especially when he had his own patients to be telling with.
“I’m sorry Doctor but you’ll have to find another intern, I’m a bit busy trying to save a patient with severe pneumonia,” Alex replied.
Dr.Hellman looked like he was ready to tear him apart but instead he walked away. Alex knew he was going to pay for that later but he had bigger problems to deal with.
Alex went back to Jack, checking on his IV and replacing the cloth on his forehead with a cold one. The oxygen seemed to be helping with breathing but if antibiotics weren’t helping that meant it was a viral and there was nothing they could but hope Jack fought it off.
“Don’t die on me okay? You can’t die without me evening getting to know you.”
At some point Alex’s shift ended but he never left Jack’s bedside. Rian came by after he’d finished his surgery, expressing his congratulations that Alex had found his soulmate and wishing him luck on the situation. When he finally left he said there’d be a cold one waiting for Alex whenever he got home, Alex thanked him and was left alone again.
Jack had stayed steady most of the time, his fever stayed high but dropped a little but at one point Jack was having such trouble breathing Alex was sure he was going to lose him. But he didn’t, Jack fought it, he was stronger than he looked. As he stayed at Jack’s side Alex couldn’t help but wonder what he was like, apparently they were soulmates so they must have something in common, Alex just hoped he’d have the chance to find out.
Alex was about to call it a night and go home, he was exhausted and he had to do the whole thing again the next day. Plus if the chief of medicine found him hanging around so long after his shift ended he’d be in even more trouble than he was with Dr.Hellman. He sighed and stood up, body aching from spending so long sat in one place. He took one last look at Jack, lying there with the oxygen mask helping him to breathe, the IV pumping him full of medicine and liquids. Alex just gave a weak smile and turned away but before he could walk off he heard coughing.
He quickly turned around and saw Jack struggling to sit up as he coughed. Alex rushed back to his side and helped him remove the oxygen mask. It took a few more seconds but Jack finally stopped and accepted the drink Alex handed to him.
“How are you feeling?” Alex asked.
“Like shit, I thought being in hospital was supposed to make you feel better,” Jack complained, falling back against the pillows.
“It seems you’re actually suffering from viral pneumonia which is something we can’t treat with drugs, so we’re just going to have to wait it out I’m afraid.”
“Great,” Jack muttered.
“I’m sorry, I know it sucks but we’ll have you back on your feet in no time,” Alex said, trying to sound positive.
“I could really do with a drink..”
“I’m afraid no alcohol until you’re out of here,” Alex said.
Jack groaned and set off a new round of coughs and Alex had to try and hide his smile. When Jack finished and settled back against his pillows Alex was set to leave, he was exhausted from working all day and his shift had ended some time ago.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then Jack, be good for the nurses,” Alex said.
“Wait, you’re going?” Jack questioned, sounding disappointed
“My shift is over, why is there something you needed?” Alex asked.
“Nothing really, I just wouldn’t mind some company,” Jack said, avoiding Alex’s eye.
Alex gave a small smile before sitting back down beside Jack’s bed.
“I’m sure I can spare some time,” Alex replied.
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Alex knew how much trouble he’d been in if either Dr.Hellman or the chief of medicine caught him hanging about so long after hours but Jack wanted someone with him and if Alex liked to think of himself as anything it was a caring Doctor.
Alex ended up staying in the hospital until Jack fell asleep again, just over an hour after he’d woken up. They’d talked about themselves, Alex had found out that Jack worked in a record store and that he loved music. Alex told him all about being a Doctor, the long hours, stressful times but most importantly how much he wanted to help people. All while they talked Alex never mentioned the fact that he thought Jack was his soulmate, he hadn’t even noticed his timmer had stopped counting but Alex figured he had bigger things to worry about, like getting better.
Alex arrived early at the hospital the next morning, he was tired and had barely had time to eat before leaving his and Rian’s apartment. He felt a bit like a zombie as he changed into his scrubs and picked up his first patient's chart for the day but luckily for him that patient was Jack.
“How’s my favourite invalid this morning?” Alex asked, standing at the end of Jack’s bed.
“Oh fantastic,” Jack replied before coughing. “God that hurt.”
“You’re having some chest discomfort?” Alex asked.
“Can I just have a listen?”
“If you want,” Jack replied.
Alex took the stethoscope from around his neck and placed the cool mental on Jack’s chest, listening at he coughed.
“It doesn’t sound any worse but I’m going to give you something to try and ease the discomfort, is anything else bothering you?” Alex asked, scribbling something down in Jack’s notes.
“That we didn’t get to finish our conversation last night,” Jack said with a small smile.
“Well I’ll have to see what I can do about that but maybe later, I’ll be back to check on you in a bit,” Alex said before smiling and walking away.
He was still smiling when he nearly walked into Dr.Hellman.
“Oh sorry Doctor, I wasn’t looking where I was going,” Alex apologized.
“Obviously, did you check on those patients I gave you?” He asked.
“I’m just on my way there now,” Alex said.
“Good, I’ll join you.”
Alex tried to muster the strength not to groan, he knew he needed to learn and the best way to do that was with another Doctor but he hated the way Dr.Hellman followed him around, telling him off about every tiny little thing, never once saying job well done.
“Gaskarth you call that an IV? My grandmother could do better and she was cremated.”
“Sorry Doctor,” Alex grumbled, going to take the IV out but his hand was swatted away.
“Go and take a break, it’s not like you’re being any use here,” Dr.Hellman snapped.
Alex sighed and walked off, he couldn’t seem to get anything right and every time Dr.Hellman was on his back, snapping at him and as much as he tried to ignore it, it got to Alex eventually.
He was on his way to get something to eat when he passed Jack’s ward, he was sat up in bed, talking to Cass, Rian’s wife and he was laughing. Alex couldn’t but smile, it was the first time he’d seen Jack laugh and it was perfect. He ended up deciding against lunch and went over to Jack instead.
“Hey if it isn’t my favourite Doctor,” Jack greeted him.
“Hi Jack,” Alex replied, slumping down in the chair beside his bed.
“Rough morning huh?” Jack asked.
“You could say that…”
“Well if it makes you feel better the stuff you gave me earlier really helped, my chest feels better,” Jack said right before coughing.
“That’s good and how’s your fever doing?” Alex asked.
“That pretty nurse said it was still at 103 but it hasn’t gone up today,” Jack replied.
“Oh you mean nurse Dawson? Cassadee?”
“Yeah I think that’s what she said her name was.”
“She’s my roommate’s wife,” Alex said.
“You’ve got one lucky roommate,” Jack chuckled and coughed again.
Alex laughed too, he could feel the weight of the morning begin to lift as he said with Jack, like nothing else mattered when he was around. He was about to continue their conversation when his pager went off, he was needed somewhere.
“Well I better go, I’ll be back later to check on you,” Alex said, standing up.
“You better,” Jack teased.
Alex smiled again before rushing off. He was beginning to really like Jack, despite how obviously ill he was he seemed to be great spirits and always had a smile and a joke for Alex every time he passed. It didn’t take long before checking on Jack became the favourite part of Alex’s day.
On Jack’s fourth day in the hospital and he’s asleep when Alex comes to check on him, all curled up under the blanket kind of like a cat. Alex smiles and takes Jack’s temperature, it’s gone down a bit but still not enough to let Jack go home, plus one of the nurses said Jack had been awake most of the night with his cough and only really getting to sleep as the sun came up. Alex was just about to leave when he saw Jack’s eyes open.
“Good morning sleepy head,” Alex greeted him.
Jack groaned and coughed into the pillow.
“Is it really?” He replied.
“Well your fevers done a bit so you’re slowly on your way out of here,” Alex said.
Jack smiled sleepily and pulled his blankets up to his shoulders.
“Can I go back to sleep now?” Jack asked.
“Course, sleep is good for sick people you know.”
“And they call you a Doctor..” Jack muttered, closing his eyes.
Alex smiled and pulled the edge of the blanket back over Jack’s shoulder, resisting the temptation to kiss his check on the way out.
As the day went on Alex tried to ignore the feeling bubbling up inside. He’d never been in love before, in a world of soulmates and timers not a lot of dating went on so before Jack Alex had never looked at anyone twice. Now he could feel that, something like standing on the edge of a cliff and the butterflies in his stomach before he dove off. He tried to keep his smile hidden from Dr.Hellman, he didn’t want to give him any more ammunition to use against him. Dr.Hellman has been particularly hard on Alex ever since the incident where Alex told him to back off, so Alex was trying to keep his head down as much as possible. He has to sneak off to see Jack during lunch just to make sure the older Doctor wasn’t following him.
He found Jack sat up in bed, leaning against his pillows with his headphones in. Alex smiled at the sight, wondering what Jack could be listening to. Upon seeing Alex standing there Jack removed them and smiled.
“Someone appears to be a good mood,” Alex said.
“Well my favourite Doctor has arrived,” Jack replied.
“And how’s my favourite patient doing?” Alex asked, trying to hide his blush.
“Not too bad, actually there was something I wanted to ask you…” Jack said before going into a coughing fit.
“What’s that?” Alex asked as he passed Jack some water.
“This morning I noticed this.”
Jack rolled up his sleeve and just like Alex’s the timer had stopped, all the numbers on zero but the red light wasn’t flashing. Alex’s heart began to hammer against his chest.
“It’s not flashing.. That means you’ve met them,” Alex said, stumped for anything better.
“Then obviously we’re as blind as each other and that’s where you come in… I wondered if you’d talk to a couple of the nurses for me, see if any of their things have reached zero.”
Alex had to pretend like his heart hadn’t just fallen to his stomach, Jack thought his soulmate was a girl…
“Yeah, yeah sure I can,” he said, trying to stop his voice from shaking.
“Are you okay? You’ve gone nearly as pale as me,” Jack asked.
“Yeah I’m fine, I’ve just remembered something I’d got to do,” Alex said before walking away.
He got all the way to the other side of the hospital before going into a storage cupboard, one of the few places he could actually be alone. He tried not to cry, tried not to let Jack’s words get to him but failed. If Jack truly thought his soulmate was a girl then what was he going to do when he found out his was Alex? And would Alex ever actually tell him?