Chapter Seven: Danger's Path Continued
It had been a few weeks since Kip's birthday, blessedly uneventful weeks as far as work was concerned but Reggy had a feeling that it was merely the calm before the storm. The bomber was still out there somewhere, no doubt planning his next target, which worried him no end. There were no worries at all regarding his relationship with Kriss which just kept getting better and better. He had been overwhelmed when Kriss had broached the subject of living together permanently the previous night and hadn't hesitated for a second to accept. Some would think they were being impulsive, after such a relatively short time together, but Reggy had no doubts that his future lay with Kriss.
Greg turned his head, eyebrows raised, as he swallowed a mouthful of coffee. "Wow, that's a big step for you isn't it?"
Reggy leans forward and grabbed his own Styrofoam cup from the dashboard, removing the lid to blow gently on the still volcanic liquid. "Not really. We practically live together anyway; I hardly ever go back to my apartment anymore. Besides," he continued, turning his head to look at Greg and shrugging, "I love him."
"Man, I was beginning to think you'd never say the big L word," Greg grinned, thumping a fist to his heart with an emotional expression. "Now you're all grown up."
"We're the same age Greg," Reggy pointed out exasperatedly.
Their conversation was interrupted by a call to an armed robbery at a store several blocks over.
"And there goes our coffee break," Reggy sighed as Greg hit the sirens and set off towards it.
The two preps were just leaving the store as they pulled up and, spotting the police car, took off down a side alley. Reggy drew his gun and ran after them as Greg called for back-up and proceeded to follow.
There was a high fence at the end of the alley and Reggy found the two men trying to climb over it, clutching a bag which, presumably, contained what they'd stolen.
"Harris PD, hold it right there," he shouted, pointing his gun at them.
The second man turned and fired his own gun, forcing Reggy to dive behind a nearby dumpster, several more rounds hitting the side of it with high-pitched metallic pings. Reggy peeked around the edge of it and saw that the first man had managed to get over the fence and was running off. The second man was nearing the top and Reggy knew he'd get away in a few more seconds. He jumped up and shouted, "Freeze or I'll shoot."
Greg had arrived behind him, pointing his own gun towards the man on the fence. He saw the man turn and prepare to shoot at Reggy again so he fired, his bullet hitting the man in the chest and sending him plummeting to the ground.
Both of them ran over to the unmoving body and Greg kicked away his gun while Reggy knelt down to check his pulse. "He's still alive. Get dispatch to send an ambulance."
Despite knowing there was a chance it would be Kriss who responded to the call, it was still a nice surprise to see him jogging towards them, Brad a few steps behind.
"Hey strangers," he smiled when he reached them, "what have we got?"
"Single gunshot wound to the chest," Reggy replied, flashing him a quick smile in return, "his pulse is steady but his breathing is getting very shallow."
Kriss checked the man over quickly, using a stethoscope to listen to his chest. "Pneumothorax," he said to Brad who nodded. "Punctured lung," he explained to Reggy when he gave him a blank look. "I need to put a chest tube in to ease the pressure but we're gonna have to move him out of this alley; there's not enough light to work with here. Can you go and grab the stretcher Brad?"
"I'm on it," Brad said, taking off back down the alley.
Reggy and Greg watched silently as Kriss removed a pressure bandage, put it over the wound, and proceeded to use the sterile plastic interior of the packaging to cover the top of it to prevent further air from being sucked in.
"What happened anyway?" he asked as he checked the man's pulse again.
"Armed robbery," Reggy explained. "He refused to drop his weapon and turned to shoot at me so Greg had to take him down."
Kriss shook his head and looked down at the man's face. "He can't be much older than twenty. Where did his life go so wrong?"
Brad returned with the stretcher and they carefully carried him out to the ambulance. However, they were only halfway there when a voice shouted, "Give him to me."
It turned out to be the man's accomplice, standing a little way off and pointing his gun towards them shakily, beads of sweat running down his face.
Reggy and Greg immediately stepped away from the stretcher and drew their guns as Kriss and Brad lowered it to the ground.
"Drop it, now," Reggy ordered.
The man's hold tightened on the gun and he pointed it directly at Kriss, who was nearest, with a determined expression. "No, you drop your guns or I'll shoot him."
Reggy's heart was thudding in his chest as he and Greg exchanged a look before slowly lowering their guns and throwing them to the ground, holding their hands up. "Okay buddy, just take it easy."
"I'm not your buddy," the man spat at Reggy, then looked at Kriss. "Now, you, give me my brother."
"He can't do that man," Greg said firmly.
The man turned on him furiously. "You two, shut the fuck up or I swear I'll blow his brains out." Reggy's jaw clenched but he stayed silent.
Kriss looked into the man's eyes steadily. "What's your name?" he asked gently.
The man blinked at the question, his eyes constantly darting around the four of them. "Eddie," he said finally, never relaxing his grip on the gun.
"Okay, listen to me Eddie," Kriss said, keeping his voice low and nonthreatening, "your brother is seriously injured. The bullet punctured his lung and, unless he gets treatment very soon, he's gonna suffocate. Do you understand?"
Eddie shook his head wildly and screwed his face up, as if trying to block out Kriss's words. "I promised him we'd never go back to prison."
"Give me the gun and I promise I'll try to help you," Kriss replied, easing towards him as Reggy watched in mute terror. "You're only making things worse for yourself."
A screech of tires which heralded the arrival of another police car destroyed any chance of getting through to him and he looked at Kriss accusingly. "You were just stalling for time weren't you?" he yelled, a mad look in his eyes.
Reggy saw him begin to squeeze the trigger and threw himself forward, pushing Kriss down as a shot rang out. Greg immediately tackled Eddie to the floor, the gun clattering across the street, and pinned him down as he cuffed him securely.
"Kriss?" Reggy shouted desperately, turning him over.
"I'm okay," Kriss said shakily, sitting up. His eyes widened as he noticed the blood on Reggy's shirt. "Oh God Reg, you've been hit."
Reggy hadn't even felt the bullet hit him, too focused on whether Kriss was injured, and looked down in surprise at the crimson stain spreading from a small hole in his abdomen. The sight of it seemed to force his brain to catch up with events and he was hit by a wave of blinding pain.
Kriss immediately snapped into paramedic mode and lay Reggy down on his back, pressing his hand firmly over the wound.
"You're gonna be okay Reg, you hear me?" Kriss said firmly, looking around for help as Reggy nodded, squeezing his eyes shut. Brad was busy trying to save Eddie's brother so Kriss shouted, "Greg, I need you."
Greg had walked Eddie over to the newly arrived police car to transfer custody of him to the two other officers. He was walking back towards them when he heard Kriss shout, breaking into a run when he heard the urgency in Kriss's voice.
"Reggy's been shot," Kriss said when he reached them, "I need you to help me, okay?"
"Fuck," Greg said, staring at Kriss's fingers which had bright red blood oozing from between them steadily.
"GREG!" Kriss shouted sternly and Greg's head snapped towards him. "You have to concentrate."
"Okay," Greg nodded, his eyes flicking back to the wound. "What do you need me to do?"
"Go and grab my kit from the ambulance and grab an oxygen mask too. You'll also need to ask dispatch to send another ambulance."
Greg nodded and ran off.
Kriss looked down into Reggy's pain-filled eyes and tried to smile reassuringly. "So you yelled at me for putting myself in danger, then you do this?"
"Better me than you," Reggy wheezed.
"No, it's not Reg," Kriss said firmly.
"Sure it is," Reggy argued weakly, "You're the paramedic aren't you?"
Kriss couldn't argue with the logic of that statement and shook his head in exasperation. He was worried about Reggy's worsening complexion though and willed Greg to hurry up. As if hearing his thoughts, Greg rushed back to the scene with Kriss's kit.
With Greg's help, Kriss managed to dress the wound securely to buy them some time. Greg put the oxygen mask over Reggy's face, alarmed at his falling level of consciousness.
"You have to try to stay awake for me Reg" Kriss said loudly. "I'm gonna give you a painkiller and put a drip in your arm now, okay?"
"Urrgh," Reggy mumbled groggily as Kriss prepared the injection, "you know I hate needles Kriss."
"I'll be as gentle as I can," Kriss replied with a sympathetic smile.
"I know you will."
"Keep talking to him Greg," Kriss said as he concentrated on his task.
Greg nodded and leans forward, Reggy's half-open eyes sliding towards him. "You know, there are easier ways of getting time off man," he said loudly. "Or did you just want to be confined to bed, huh?"
"Only if Kriss's with me," Reggy murmured under the mask, managing a smirk, and Kriss couldn't help smiling.
Greg continued to talk but Reggy couldn't concentrate on his words, feeling increasingly tired and light-headed. He could feel the strong reassuring touch of Kriss's hands and knew he couldn't be in better care. With that comforting thought he let himself sink into the warm, inviting darkness.