A/N: I took a CPR course in the late 80's and this was the way you were supposed to count during the procedure.
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"Five, one thousand… Breathe!"
Come on, come on, dammit.
"Two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand…"
Still nothing. He was starting to lose hope. He took one look at her and decided to try once more, although he knew every compression he made, every breath taken, was one more step towards having to declare her dead. And Nick didn't want that. Too many losses already, to add this one as well.
"One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand…"
Breathe, breathe, breathe!
Nick Stokes had been enjoying an unusual afternoon off, and he was making the most of it. He had taken hand-gliding last year, and tried to fly as often as possible. It was such a stress reliever for him, and nothing beat the sensation of being up there in the sky, just him and the eagles, soaring away… he felt so alive and free!
When he landed, he folded his equipment and threw it in the back of his truck. Turning around, he noticed someone was leaning against the hood. A female someone. A someone he hadn't expected to see so soon. A someone he wasn't prepared to see, not yet, anyway, probably not anytime in the near future.
But there she was, and she knew he knew she was there, so there was no sense in stalling anymore.
"Howdy cowboy" she greeted as he approached her.
Nick took a good long hard look at her. Long legs, clad in jeans, comfortable crossed, and he remembered how it felt like to lie on them, between them. Long blond hair, unruly as usual, but oh-so-soft, enough to drive him crazy with desire when she teased his body with it. He still remembered clearly how it felt to tangle his hands on it the first time they'd kissed. Fate had wanted this encounter to take place in exactly the same place that kiss had taken place and the sweet irony of it was not lost to Nick. And he hoped it was not lost to her either.
They had been working for over 9 hours recovering the remains of 5 people involved in a car accident. Since none of them had been wearing seat belts, remains were scattered all over the ravine, and the retrieval had been both brutal and gruesome. By the time he was done he felt completely drained, both physically and emotionally. As he was putting his case away, he notices her standing on the edge of the cliff, looking lost and lonely. He couldn't blame her; she had had to work with the remains of a small three year old girl, cute as a button in life, unbearable to watch in death.
He approached her, and realized she was having a hard time keeping herself together. Instinctively, he put his arms around her. She stiffened for a second, and then came apart. He allowed her to cry for a long time, even joined her for a couple of moments, and by the time she was feeling better, they were the only ones in the area.
"I feel so numb" she had muttered, and he had known exactly what she meant.
"Please make me feel alive again" she had murmured, and he had known exactly what she wanted.
He had tangled his hands in her hair and his tongue with hers and he had made her tremble. Much later that night, she had tangled her hair in his body and she had made him quiver.
"Three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand… breathe!"
In the distance, Nick could make the sound of the siren as the ambulance approached. And although his rational self told him that it was too late, that she was already gone, he kept on counting:
"Two one thousand, three one thousand…"
"Howdy cowboy" she had greeted.
"Hey stranger" he'd answered back, not caring what his tone conveyed.
"I guess you haven't forgiven" she said, and walked right up to him, invading his personal space, quickly capturing his lips in a soft kiss. "I see you haven't forgotten".
Nick cursed his weakness when it came to her. He could try to deny it as much as he wanted, but, truth was, he was still in love with her, he wasn't over her, he still wanted her. And as much as he ought to get away from her, he simply couldn't do it. She was going to be his downfall, she had always been, and she'd probably always be. So be it. He couldn't resist her any more that he could stop breathing, and despite all the damage she'd done to him, he'd be in her bed the moment she asked him to do so.
"When did you come back?" he asked a tad harshly, unwilling to give in to her so soon.
"Around noon" she answered, dryly.
"When are you leaving?" was his next question.
She pierced him with her blue eyes. "Do you want me to leave?"
"Three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand…. Breathe!"
The ambulance was there already. Nick could hear the paramedics shouting instructions to the onlookers. He was tired, so very tired, but he would continue trying to bring back to life her body long gone until he was relieved form his post. Let the medics declare her. He wouldn't do it. He simply couldn't.
"Do you want me to leave?"
The question hung between them for a moment, and then two. Before the third rolled by, they were interrupted by shouts coming from the edge of the ravine. Instincts kicked in, a lifetime devoted to serve and protect, and they both went to see what was wrong and how they could help.
Another accident, some other victims, the déjà vu not lost to either one of them. This was where and how their story started, would this be when and where it ended? The male vic was beyond help, neck broken neatly in half, over before his fall had even ended. The female was alive, barely, and in dire need of medical intervention. They fell into a routine, no words needed, months and years of working together giving them a sense of confidence in the other.
"Five one thousand… breathe!"
"We'll take over!" The medics were at his side, their equipment ready.
They walked back to Nick's truck in silence. Nick realized he was completely exhausted and Sofia noticed it too.
"You should have let me switch places" she gently scolded.
"You're better than me at the breathing part" he reminded her.
The truck had been reached and silence enveloped them once more.
"We are good together" she muttered.
"We were good together" he reminded her once more.
Blue eyes piercing dark brown. Her hand moved up to his face and her thumb traced the outline of his lips.
"Are… were… does it matter?"
Nick couldn't answer. Not only did he not have an answer, but was bound speechless by her mere thumb. He was beaten and they both knew it.
Without further words, he opened the passenger's side door and walked towards the drivers end. She got in, he turned on the ignition, they rode in silence. His house, her call. She looked at him and closed her eyes. He pulled her close and groaned. Her hands on his shoulders. His teeth on her lower lip. Her mouth on his neck. His hands underneath her shirt.
Soon enough, they were tangled in such fashion that it was hard to say where he ended and she started, where she lead and where he followed, who was flowing and who was ebbing.
Early morning light seeping through the blinds awoke him. Cold sheets tangled at his waist confirmed it. She was gone, again. Only this time around he wasn't surprised. His heart stopped beating inside his chest, again. This time around, however, he held on to his mantra for the day:
"Three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand…. BREATHE…"
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A/N: I have no idea where the hell this came from. Totally different style from what I usually write!