Title: Stay Down
By:Deanangst aka Blairtime
Written in response to multiple prompts At Bite Sized Bits of Fic
Special thanks to my big sister for taming the "monkee" speak.
It all happened so fast, they weren't even working a case. It was just a lazy Saturday afternoon spent exploring the city they now called home. Nate was picking up a newspaper from a corner vendor while Eliot ran into the convenience store for ice cream. The sound of gunfire and shattering glass has Nate spinning and running toward the sound. There is a man running out of the store, gun in hand and money still clenched in his fist. Without pausing Nate raises his arm catching the thief across the neck. His brain registers the dull thud of a skull hitting the ground and the gun skittering across the concrete sidewalk but he doesn't stop moving, he leaves the thief to the mercy of the bystanders and heads into the store.
Nate forces his way inside, but he can't see Eliot and his stomach clenches impossibly tighter. In the background he can hear the store clerk's frantic call to 911. Moving quickly, he scans the faces of the passing people, looks down each isle, and is beginning to think that maybe Eliot didn't go into the store at all. Maybe there is an actual ice cream parlor nearby and he just hadn't noticed. Then he sees it, the small freezer section located near the checkout counter. The freezer door is still open but the glass is gone. Moving around a corner display he see's Eliot and his heart threatens to stop.
The younger man is down, the front of his pale western shirt quickly staining red from the wound on the right side. His left hand gripping the metal shelving of the freezer as he tries to pull himself up. Nate rushes forward, uncaring of the glass littering the floor he drops to his knees. He has to pry the younger man's fingers from the shelving before he can slide him away from the freezer and into a horizontal position on the floor.
Although Eliot struggles against him are weakening, it still makes it difficult to search out the source of the blood, and apply pressure on the wound he finds. Nate can see blood on the floor and knows there is an exit wound he can't get to. Using his free hand Nate reaches out and touches Eliot's face, turning the younger man's head toward himself so Eliot has look at him.
Nate is met with wild frantic eyes, as Eliot is clearly still trying to locate the source of danger. Nate knows the exact moment when Eliot registers the fact that it is Nate above him. A bloody hand reaches up and latches weakly onto Nate's wrist. Eliot begins struggling again to pull himself up, panting with the effort to not only move but to also breath. Nate moves his hand from Eliot's face to this shoulder, as he forces the man back down.
Eliot huffs, and it's hard to tell whether it is frustration at being held down, or a pain filled release of breath. There are tears leaking from the corners of his eyes, and he tightens his grip on Nate's wrist.
"..wasn't...even...doin'...any...thing...wrong..." Eliot manages to pant out before he renews his struggles to rise, despite the fact that he is now white as a sheet, and his lips are starting to take on a bluish hue.
"I know, I know this wasn't your fault, but you gotta stay down okay?" Nate watched as Eliot stills his movements, and nods slightly.
" 'k" he manages before blue eyes slide closed.
"ELIOT! ...ELIOT!" Nate yells, shaking the younger man's shoulder. Then hands pull him away, and the paramedics take over.
* * *
Nate counts the cycles as the vent forces air into Eliot's lungs. The sound merges with that of the heart monitor and various other pieces of equipment. It hasn't been quite 48 hours since Eliot was hit by a stray bullet in a convenience story hold up. Nate blinks away tears, trying to forget just how close Eliot had come to dying on that dirty tile floor.
He's holding Eliot's hand, afraid to break contact with the younger man...not after the last time. He'd only stepped outside to get a cup of coffee and smoke a quick cigarette to calm his nerves since alcohol was out of the question as long as Eliot needed him sober. Eliot had chosen that moment to fight his way back to wakefulness.
The scene Nate had returned to was forever etched in his memory. Blood covered the bed and floor, Eliot's arms had been restrained but he still fought weakly against the nurse that was trying to keep the "bag" over his face as she manually forced air into his lungs. The Doctor, Nate couldn't remember his name at the moment, was injection something into Eliot's IV and seconds later Eliot gave into its effects and was under once again.
Later a nurse explained that Eliot had somehow managed to extubate himself when he woke, and in his panic in not being able to draw a breath the younger man had panicked and then he'd fought them when they tried to help. It was rare but happened, they were going to have to keep him restrained until he was fully awake and understood what was happening to him.
So Nate was waiting, until Eliot came around again. Silently hating himself for not being there the first time. A slight twitching of fingers had Nate standing. Reaching out with his free hand to push the hair off of Eliot's forehead in a soothing motion. Nate watched as Eliot's eyebrows drew together, clearly showing he was in pain. Drug hazed eyes fluttered open, and Nate saw it when the panic set in when Eliot tried to fight the Vent, eyes widening when he was unable to bring his hand to his face.
"Hey..hey Eliot. Look at me...Relax." Nate spoke in a soothing voice trying to get the younger man's attention. When Eliot had focused on him Nate spoke again. "I'm here. You're safe."
It's been four days since the shooting. Nate makes his way down the hallway toward Eliot's room. The brown paper sack is cold in his hand. Nate doesn't bother knocking; he simply pushes open the door and steps inside. The head of Eliot's bed is slightly elevated, and the TV is tuned to a football game, but the younger man is sleeping. Placing the bag on the bed table, Nate reaches out and adjusts the nasal canal that has begun to slip free. He knows the younger man hates it, but they are still having trouble keeping his oxygen levels up. It's been a frightening few days, and no one wants' to see the man go back on the ventilator.
Blurry blue eyes flutter open, and a hand reaches up to remove the cause if his current irritation.
"Leave it alone Eliot." Nate chastises, catching the man's hand before it can reach its target.
Eliot scowls before turning his attention to the bag. "What's that?" He asks voice hoarse from the oxygen and lack of use.
Reaching into the bag, Nate removes the half pint carton of vanilla ice cream and spoon. Tossing the lid back into the bag, Nate dips the spoon into the carton.
Eliot is fumbling for the bed controls when Nate speaks holding out the spoon, and offering the bite of ice cream to Eliot. "Stay down...I got this."