This part gets REALLY corny but then, it was a Disney show. I'm just trying to channel some of that.
"Got any twos?"
Catie reached a slender and manicured hand to the pile of cards. She surveyed her hand and smiled triumphantly before placing down a series of cards. Brooke groaned.
"Should I deal again?" she asked boredly.
Catie rolled her eyes, "Only if we're playing for money this time. I seriously can't play another stupid hand."
"You could always help me out with some cleaning," Brooke suggested.
"As if," returned Catie. "Why aren't you cleaning?"
"Alex went home so I have to be here to answer phones."
"How convenient." Catie grinned and Brooke smiled back.
"Rummy?" she suggested.
"Deal 'em up."
Before she had even finished collecting cards from the last game, Brooke heard a noise at the front door. The pair turned to see the rowdy group of EMTs barrel in.
"Catie," Val said with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"We lost power at our place and I decided to come over and steal some of yours." She indicated a cell phone charging on the kitchen counter. "Besides, I've got that history test tomorrow and it's kinda hard to study in the dark."
"Well don't let me interrupt your study session," teased Val flipping over a couple of playing cards.
"How did the call go?" Brooke interjected and Tyler leaned in to answer.
"Not nearly as bad as it looked. Some kid had gotten side-swiped by a car when she was chasing after her dog."
"Her mother was freaking out but we looked her over and finally got her to 'fess up," Val continued. "It turns out she didn't even get hit, she just fell into a puddle when the car drove by. No scrapes, bruises, nothing. The hardest part was getting the mother to calm down."
Tyler laughed. "Hank pretty much held her in his arms for about twenty minutes."
"What a hero," chided Catie.
Hank pulled of his heavy jacket and smiled. "The real hero of course, was Jamie. He's the one that found the dog."
The foursome turned to see a dripping wet Jamie framed in the doorway of the common room. Catie looked conerned while Brooke had to put her lips to keep from laughing. Tyler and Hank were less successful and snickers escaped.
"Where was it? At the bottom of a pool?"
"Very funny," Jamie sniffled and rubbed the back of his nose with a sodden sleeve. Catie stood and walked quickly to his side, reaching out his hand in a gesture of comfort.
"Poor thing," she murmured.
He whipped his arm from her touch with a look that was a cross between anger and hurt. "I'm fine," he growled, dropping his bag onto a chair and flocking from the room.
The remainder of the EMTs quickly lost their battle not to laugh and giggles erupted. Catie turned an angry face on the group.
"You guys are so dense sometimes." The laughter stopped while they began to listen. "You guys don't know how important this all is to him. Even when he's sick he doesn't want to let you guys down. You could try being a little sensitive."
With that final declaration she stormed from the room after her friend. An akward silence permeated behind her departure.
"Anyone else feel like a complete jerk?" asked Tyler finally.
Catie stomped through the dark halls, still heated, for a few minutes before she found Jamie. He was on the floor of Alex's empty office, back slumped against the wall. His eyes watered and he held his hands before his face in a typical pre-sneeze motion.
"Jamie," began Catie in an apologetic tone. He interrupted her by holding a finger before his face. She took a step closer as he pitched forward in a violent sneeze, followed by another and another. Catie waited patiently for this fit to finish and after a final "Hi-shew!," Jamie sniffled and lowered his hands.
"Gesundheit," she said, sliding onto the floor beside him.
Another moment passed while Jamie seemed to be searching for words.
"You ever get that feeling that you can't do anything right?"
"Are you kidding?" Catie broke into a grin. "Only always."
Jamie nodded sullenly and Catie took his hand, forcing his eyes to meet hers.
"But you," she said, "You should never feel that way. You're doing a good thing here, you know? Even when I give you a hard time or they tease you, you keep doing it."
A crooked smile crept back onto Jamie's face.
"Thanks," he said.
"Jamie?" Val's sweet voice floated into the office.
He looked up to see Val, Tyler, Hank, and Brooke crowded into the doorway. Val pushed through first and extended her arms. "We're sorry."
In one hand she held a box of tissues, in the other towel.
"We were really lucky to have you today," joined Hank handing over a clean and dry uniform.
"And I was so glad to have you downstairs to reach all the high up stuff," said Brooke with a laugh, pulling a blanket over Jamie's shoulders.
"But Jamie," said Tyler kindly holding a steaming mug in his hands. "If you're not feeling well you can call out. It's okay. Your health is the most important thing."
"You don't have to prove anything to us," said Val with a shake of her head.
Wrapped in a blanket, slowly filling his body with a soothing tea Jamie's breath caught and he smiled. "Thanks guys," he said, biting his lip.
Brooke stepped forward and laid a hand across his arm. "Now you go on home and get some rest," she said kindly. "These guys will be all too willing to help me finish the storage room."
The three looked at each other. Tyler raised his eyebrows.