Oz leaned up against the ambulance, enjoying the last bit of his strawberry smoothie. It was just too hot. Mid-shift or not, he had to something cold going down his throat. He was trying to ignore his partner, who was slouched in the shotgun seat, fingers laboriously texting someone, probably Olivia. He shook his head; he could not figure what was up between Toby and that girl. Their relationship seemed like a yo-yo. One minute everything's peachy, the next they aren't speaking.
Toby ignored Oz thoughts continuing to text Olivia.
A call crackled through the ambulance's radio. Oz tossed the empty cup into a trash can and jumped into the driver' seat. At least this time he'd gotten to finish a drink. "A lady passed out in her apartment." Oz said.
Toby nodded, finishing up on his phone. "Who called it in?"
"A guy from the apartments across the street," Oz answered. "Said he just happened to look out the window and saw her seem to faint. When he didn't see her get up after a few seconds he called it in."
"What was he doing staring in the woman's window?" Toby asked.
"I bet she's hot!" Oz said, a mischievous smile forming on his face. "He was just working away on his computer, or whatever, and he leans back to stretch and then before his eyes appears this gorgeous woman and he just can't look away." Oz's voice takes on a playful tone as he stretches in his seat for emphasis.
He could tell Toby was grinning.
The ambulance rocked to a halt in front of an apartment complex. Oz killed the siren and began to pull out the gear as Toby went in search of the building's manager. The three men, followed by a few residents drawn by the activity, found the fourth floor apartment. Toby used his squib key when the manager, unsettled by the possibility of the emergency in his normally quiet building, fumbled and dropped his ring of door keys for the second time. An acrid, familiar odor drafted from the open door. Toby and Oz looked at reach other immediately recognizing the odor. "Maybe we should wait, man."
Toby reached inside his bag pulling out a mask to put over his face. "She could die and this whole place burn down before anyone gets here. I'm going in. Get these people out of here."
"Toby!' Oz called out to his friend, but he was already inside the apartment. Oz turned back to the apartment manager who looked two shades paler than he had just moments earlier. "You need to get everyone out of the apartment. "Now!"
"W-Why?" the manager stuttered.
"Because we think your tenant was trying to cook meth in her apartment." Oz said bluntly trying to break the manager out of his near stupor. An exclamation of "Oh, my lord" could be heard as people immediately began pushing to get out the way.
He walked through the rooms quickly and found the woman lying on her side in front of the kitchen stove. He smiled, Oz was correct; long blond hair flowed across angelic features and a peasant blouse and jeans revealed a lovely figure. She was definitely good looking. A rattle from the stove got his attention. A pot jittered on a glowing red burner, smoked billowed out of the top of it. If someone hadn't called the paramedics, they would have soon called the fire department. He reached across the woman to flip the control knob. A cloud of fumes stung his eyes and burned down his throat even through his mask. He knelt at the woman's side, coughing and working to get his breath back. He did a rapid evaluation of the woman.
He heard a shout, "Toby, you okay in there?"
"Yeah, found her. Looks like a small contusion from the fall, but it's pretty nasty in here. I'm pulling her out. We can work on her in the hall. Call it in."
The small speech had winded him. He turned the woman over onto her back. Suddenly, the woman eyes popped open, looking about wildly and she began flailing her arms at him. "Get away from me. What are you doing?"
"Ma'am. I'm trying to help you." Toby answered trying to keep the woman still. "You passed out."
"No," the woman finally managed to make contact with Toby yanking his mask off his face. "Get away."
Toby knew he needed to get her out of the apartment as soon as possible, and he could tell that reasoning with her would not work. He grabbed her underneath both arms and dragged her out using the fireman's technique.
Toby stopped outside the apartment laying the once again unconscious woman on the floor in the now empty hallway and immediately began coughing.
"What happened in there? Are you okay?"
"She woke up" was all Toby could get out before coughing again. "I'll be fine. I just need some fresh air." Toby said in response to his friend's worried thoughts.
"Haz-mat is on its way and the building has been evacuated – or at least I told the manager the building needed to be evacuated." Oz said still looking at Toby worriedly.
"Good, let's go before she wakes up again."
Toby climbed into the back of the rig to monitor the patient. He wondered if she had gotten more of the stuff in her lungs than he had. He decided to use the nonrebreather mask rather than nasal cannula; she would need the additional oxygen.
"Oz call it in it." Toby reminded his partner.
"Metropolis General, this is Ambulance number 74. We have a patient with meth inhalation. She is currently unconscious, though was quite agitated earlier. Her breathing is shallow and she is tachycardic."
The rig eased into traffic, siren on.
"I'm fine, Oz." He fitted the woman's mask and adjusted the gas flow rate without looking up.
He had noticed Oz's worried stare twice so far and his friend's head was full of nervous twittering.
"No, I'm not going to take a puff off our patient's oxygen." Their eyes met in the rear view mirror.
"Hey, it was just a thought. You were really coughing up there." Oz shrugged, turned his eyes back to the road and drove for the hospital.
Toby found it was hard to concentrate. The tickle that had started at the back of his head at the apartment was growing into an all-over ache. Just a headache, he thought, if I close my eyes for just a moment, it will go away. He forced his eyes open. He had a patient to care for. Take some deep breaths and focus. The pain had grown exponentially. He could feel cracks spider-webbing across the wall in his mind. He took breaths as deep as his lungs would let him; trying to remain calm and strengthen the wall.
Random thoughts began poking through the cracks like enemy invaders finding the weakness in a city's walls. I can't believe he would cheat on me… with her....Hmmm…what am I in the mood for now… chocolate cookie or milkshake?.... Oh, can you believe she is wearing that? ….. An ambulance…right behind me…what do I do now?
His pulse throbbed in his temples; it felt like his head was coming off. He could feel his heart banging in his chest. He needed more air. If I have to leave work one more time to get that kid out of trouble… Did that really cute guy just look at me?...What is wrong with this traffic?… It was taking all the concentration he had to keep from being over run.
He blinked, trying to see the woman on the gurney in front of him. He had to take care of his patient. The rig swayed. He could feel sweat running down the side of his face. Daylight seemed to be draining away. Everything slid sideways. He heard Oz call his name from very far away.