Almost There

Chapter 5

"Tyler!"

Val was calling him. She must be okay then. He almost laughed out loud with the relief that thought brought him. He started down the aisle towards her voice, when a strong hand grabbed his elbow.

"Hey!" He adjusted his hold on Anna and turned to find a man, looking desperate and leaning in close to him.

"Please, can you help me?" He gestured to a woman lying in the aisle.

"My wife…Do you know CPR?" Of course he knew CPR, he thought. He handled situations like this everyday, didn't he? Something like this.

He glanced in the direction of Val's voice again before nodding. He set Anna down, and she protested, gripping a handful of his shirt.

"Yea, I can help."

All he had to do was tune Val out.

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Jamie took a deep breath, twisting his head to the side and peering into the darkness. Yes, he told Val to go, but he was regretting his prior bravery now. His legs were tingling madly and painfully up to the knee, where they were truly trapped, and then they caught on fire. It was unlike anything he'd ever felt. Squirming in his seat, he could only imagine comparing the pain to crawling over hot coals or kneeling on the stove. He wiped the sweat from his forehead.

EMT training sure wasn't helping him any now. He had no way to help himself, let alone anyone else. Like Caitie, he thought desperately. He sighed loudly.

"Fuck."

And then blinked as a bright spot light bounced off the metal in front of him. Loud voices echoed down the row.

Was this help? Val, he remembered. Val got help.

A flashlight shone in his face, and he turned away blinking.

"How're you doin' there kid?"

Jamie leaned back against the seat and let his head loll towards the uniformed rescuer.

"Man, am I glad to see you."

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Unable to find Tyler, Val had continued down the aisle. She'd bandaged a man's arm with his tie and helped another find his son. Even though she knew she had a duty to help others, she couldn't put the worry for her friends out of her head.

She shuffled back down the row, and checked her watch, surprised at how much time had passed since she left Jamie. She was at the end of the row when she ran into a large man.

He gripped her shoulders.

"Ma'am, are you okay?" He asked, shining a flashlight at her, checking for injuries.

"I'm fine, but my friend is trapped."

"We're taking care of it. You need to get outside. It's not safe in here and we need room to work."

She shrugged out of his grasp.

"No, I can help." The man looked at her doubtfully.

"I'm an EMT." He eyed her for a few seconds more, before reaching into his bag and handing her some tags.

"Okay then, head outside and triage," he grinned. "We need all the help we can get."

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Tyler stumbled out of the plane onto the muddy ground.

"Are you okay Anna?" The little girl had yet to let go of him and was again nestled against his shoulder.

"I'm okay," she replied sleepily.

That made one of them, he thought. He had done CPR for fifteen or twenty minutes before the man's wife had begun to breathe on her own. She'd woken up shortly after that and would be fine, but breathing for her for so long had knocked something loose in his chest. He couldn't put his finger on the pain, but he felt nauseous and dizzy. Anna's weight on him didn't help, but he didn't dare put her down.

One of the emergency workers had told him to head outside and get his sister somewhere safe and he didn't have the energy to argue.

He stood there for a moment, stunned. There must have been hundreds of people there, scattered throughout the trees. More and more paramedics and firemen were arriving and they moved through the woods, their reflective uniforms shining in the dim moonlight.

One in particular caught his eye. She was un-uniformed, triaging people with green, yellow, red, or black tags. She stood up and he caught a glimpse of shining blonde hair.

Val.

He stumbled with the realization and began to jog towards her as quickly as he could.

"Val!"

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Val hated triage. Seriously. She could never justify to herself putting a red tag on a critically injured patient without stopping to actually help them. Especially when she knew that she could.

Unfortunately, it was a job, an important one, which had to be done in situations like this.

She moved on to a thin man in a suit, minus the jacket. He stood staring off at the mass of metal behind them.

"How are you doing sir?" He didn't seem hurt. She took his pulse, which was a little fast, but otherwise strong and steady.

"I- I didn't see it before." She avoided turning to look at the plane, placing a tag around his wrist, with the green portion still attached.

"You're going to be fine." She went to leave him, when he grabbed her hand.

"Wait! I need help."

"Sir, you're going to be fine," she reassured him. "You're just in shock right now." And who wouldn't be, she thought.

He shook his head, seeming to snap out of his haze.

"No, not for me. There's a girl back that way," he gestured into the trees. "She needs help, really. I- I didn't know what to do."

She hated triage. Seriously. People needed help and it wasn't her job to go help them.

"I'm sorry, I can't--"

"Val!" She spun around, forgetting the man for a moment.

That was Tyler's voice.

"Val!" She turned again, frantically searching for him in the chaotic crowd.

And then she saw him, jogging stiffly towards her. She ran the few steps to meet him and threw her arms around his neck, ignoring the sleeping child on his shoulder.

"Oh, you're okay, you're okay," she whispered in his ear.

"I was so scared Val, I couldn't find you."

"I'm okay, I'm okay," she reassured.

"There was blood all over your jacket and--"

"Tyler," she stepped back from him, "That was your blood on my jacket." She eyed the wound on his forehead and the pasty color of his skin. "Are you sure you're okay?"

He nodded and tried to smile past the lump in his throat.

"Fine, now that I found you." She grinned despite her worries, meeting his gaze. She cleared her throat.

"So, uh, who's this?" She gestured to the little girl. "A new girlfriend?"

"This is Anna." He checked again to make sure she was still sleeping. "Her mom…I found her there. She thought she was sleeping."

Val nodded with the realization of what he meant. She'd already dealt with so many people tonight, but she hadn't thought of the personal loss until now. And she was just a little girl.

"Here," she held out her arms to him, "Let me take her. You look like you could use a break."

They traded, the triage tags for Anna, but as Tyler bent to hand the girl over the weight shifted on his chest, and in his chest, and something broke.

He stumbled to his knees, the air rushing out of his lungs audibly. Leaving him empty to gasp and wheeze for another breath.

"Tyler! Oh my god." Val fell to her knees in front of him, moving the now crying Anna out of the way.

She didn't need a stethoscope to recognize the deep rasping sounds coming from his chest.

"Tyler, you need to breathe." She took his hands as he grasped for support, shaking his head frantically.

He knew, as well as she did, what had happened. The nagging pain in his chest had been broken ribs that had eventually torn into his lung. A lung that had now collapsed.

Val looked around, panicky. She didn't have any equipment. She couldn't deal with this. Tyler grasped at her arms, struggling to take a breath, his eyes wide and pleading. While Anna stood between them, a hand on each, yelling.

"Stop! Stop! Stop!"

Val stood, opening her mouth in desperation.

"Help! Somebody! We need help!"

A/N: That was a long part! Expect more of Caitie and Jamie in the next bit. Do ya'll think I need to include more of Hank and the others, or, since we've basically seen there reactions, leave them be? Yea, I know writing is all about making decisions, and I should make them myself, but I really like to hear the opinions of readers. Thanks. ;)

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