Chapter One: Suture That, Stat!

Jo sat on the gurney, trying to get her black Doc Martens boots back on and was having a hard time lacing them up. Haste makes waste, her mother always said and again, mom had been correct. Jo tried to take a deep breath to calm herself but it didn't work.

Dammit! She finally got her boots on and laced but she was so damn tired, that getting off the gurney meant she was back to the unit for sure, so she contemplated maybe getting 10 more winks when the door of the exam room flung open, letting copious amounts of unwanted light into the room and a head popped in yelling, "Dr. Polniazcek, it's 0500HRS...still!" and the door slammed shut. Jo grimaced, not because of the time but because SHE was the one waking her up after three measly hours of shut eye.

Annoyed, Jo slid off the gurney and landed on her feet. She grabbed her white lab coat and put it on. Her name was neatly embroidered on the right side of the coat, "Dr. Joanna M. Polniazcek, Resident." That made Jo smile, because it took a lot of years to get to this point. Her navy scrubs were slightly wrinkled but they would be okay. She grabbed her stethoscope, put it around her neck and fluffed her long dark brown hair so it looked somewhat neat.

"Oh well, not here to impress." Right, except HER. God why couldn't she stop thinking about HER. If she failed at being the top second year resident here at PCH, SHE would be in hot water.

Once Jo was back in the E.R, she felt more at ease. This was her home and a great place of action at times. Broken legs, cardiac arrest, comas, traumas...all the good stuff. She loved her job and was a natural at being at emergency care. It had been a dream of hers since she was a kid. Once she had to go into the ER in the Bronx with a broken arm when she was 13, and that was when she decided she wanted to become a trauma doctor.

So to college she went and after 5 long years, she finally made it. After attending Langley Medical School, she had been shipped over to Peekskill County Hospital as a medical student. She worked herself ragged being the butt monkey of all the residents and nurses. She got the shit work but eventually her own tenacity paid off.

When it was time to pick a specialty, no one was surprised when she requested trauma. Now she was very close to completing her second year, but in her way was...HER.

Jo had never met anyone who bugged her as much as the Charge nurse of the ER, Blair Warner. SHE was the one who loved to make more work for Jo, make everything more complicated with scads of unnecessary paperwork and constant reprimands for using 'too much" of everything including time and medical supplies. How can you use too many sutures on an arm that required seventeen stitches? Yeah, maybe sometimes Jo handed out a few extra band aides to people who were less fortunate, and yeah, she didn't care if people had insurance or not. But why did that have to concern big old mean Nurse Warner? She didn't own the damn hospital.

Jo was thinking these rather inane thoughts as she was walking quickly to the unit desk to see what was going on and what cases she might be able to sink her teeth into. Maybe a nice head injury or broken leg, stroke, coma? Before she had time to ask Jerry, the desk clerk what he had for her, Nurse Warner appeared.

"I called you three times, Dr. Polniazcek. Your shift began at 0500 not 0510." Nurse Warner said crossing her arms.

Jo gave her a look of disdain thru weary bloodshot eyes, "Sorry, but I just had 3 hours of shut eye. Unlike you, who probably slept 8 hours."

"My sleeping habits are of no concern of yours, Doctor. Just show up when you are suppose to. This is an ER, not a college frat house." Warner said, walking away without waiting for Jo's usual comical retort.

"I guess she woke up on the wrong side of the broom this morning, huh?" Jo said with a grin to Jerry.

Jerry shook his head and frowned, "Alice Beacon told Dr. Goodwin who told Danny the intern that Nurse B and Doctor George broke up."

Jo was shocked, "The Trauma Charge Nurse broke up with Super Chief of Residents? Holy shit, Sherlock, how'd that happen. I thought they were the Ken and Barbie of Peekskill County?"

"Guess not everything is what it seems, huh Dr J?" Jerry said solemnly.

"I guess." Jo said thoughtfully. The news had surprised her. The Chief Resident, George Burnett was a nice guy, a little flakey sometimes but an okay guy and a good doctor. Jo thought that the relationship between Warner and Burnett wasn't a great idea. Those things rarely worked out, dating people you work with.

She dated a lot of EMT's, cops, even a nurse when she was still in school, but none worked out. So she concentrated on her studies and ignored personal liaisons. She figured that once she was a Chief Resident of County, she would settle down with someone and they'd buy a house and have a dog or a cat, maybe a kid although Jo had no intention on having kids herself. Maybe they could adopt or something. Those were her dreams, anyways.

"Jo, there's a laceration in C4, can you check it out. Sam is on break." Dr. Andy Moffat said as he handed Jo a file. This startled Jo who was in deep in thought with her dreams of the future.

"Yeah, no problem. Thanks." Jo said, still distracted with the thoughts of Warner and George no longer a couple and her own dating woes. She walked into room C4 and saw a young girl, maybe 18, with her arms covered in tea towels.

"Hi, I'm Dr. Polniazcek, what's the problem?" Jo said with a smile.

"What do you think is the problem, Dr Jekyll? I cut my friggin' arm!" The girl yelled angrily.

Jo glanced at the file, "Well...Miss Affinado, let me have a look."

"Are you even a real doctor coz you don't look like one." Miss Affinado said with contempt.

"Well what do I look like?" Jo asked, knowing she was walking right into this one.

"Like a friggin' janitor. Where you from, Brooklyn?" Affinado said scathingly.

"I assure you, I am a doctor - see I have a lab coat and everything and I am here to suture your arm. Oh and yes I am from the Bronx if you must know." Jo said as she opened the file to read a little more into the girl's situation.

"Bronx, huh? Were you like a Young Diablo or something?" Affinado said with a laugh.

Jo looked up, "Ah, look here...Miss...Kelly Affinado, I am here to suture your wound, if you a require a psychiatric assessment, we have an excellent psyche resident, Dr Cindy Webster."

"I'm just pullin' yer chain, for God's sake, lightin' up. Here' my arm and make it quick, I got things to do." Kelly Affinado said laughing at Jo.

Jo was not impressed but she gathered a sterile suture tray and started to wash her hands, wishing that she had asked a nurse to assist in case the kid got out of hand. Suddenly as if on cue, Nurse Warner knocked on the door with her usual three taps and entered the room, "Do you require any assistance Doctor?"

Jo dried her hands and looked over at Warner with a reflexive grin, "Yeah, actually I could use an extra set of hands. Thanks."

"Excellent, I'll prepare your tray." Blair said donning blue nitrite gloves.

"Hey who's this little piece of Heaven?" Kelly Affinado said to Jo with a wink, as she leered at the nurse in pretty pink scrubs.

"That is Nurse Warner, who will be assisting me." Jo said firmly, not taking too kindly to Affinado's rather disgusting inferences.

"Hey she can bed bath me anytime, ain't that right, honey cakes?" Affinado said with a wink to Blair.

"Look kid, I'm gonna suture that arm, and it's either gonna be a breeze or it's gonna hurt like hell. Pick which ever ya want, it makes no difference to me." Jo growled angrily.

Blair looked over at Jo while she prepared the sterile tray of instruments, giving her a curious look. Blair didn't usually allow emotions to interweave into her job, work was work, play was play, simple as that. But for the first time, she actually SAW Dr. Joanna Polniazcek and the way she conducted herself in a social situation. It seemed as if The Doctor was attempting to protect Blair's honor, something she had never seen anyone do for her before.

"Miss Affinado, is it? Dr. Polniazcek is very good at her job so please do not make it harder for her." Blair said using her sternest demeanour she could muster.

Kelly looked over at Jo and then Blair, contemplating a retort.

Jo walked over to Blair, ignoring the annoying patient and smiled, "Gloves?"

"Of course Doctor." Blair said as she found the sterile blue gloves and skilfully removed them from the paper lining and put them onto Jo's hands as it she was a magician.

Jo gave her a silly grin, "Hey you could take that skill on the road and make a lot of moola."

"If the nursing gig doesn't fly, I might just do that." Blair said with a straight face. The joke threw Jo off and she found herself chuckling at the blonde.

Jo held her sterile gloved hands up and waited for Blair to prepare Affinado's arm for suturing. She couldn't seem to stop smiling and wondered why Warner was being so, well, nice. Had she always been nice and Jo just hadn't noticed or was this something to do with George and the break up.

Now she was annoyed because her days of relationships, one night stands and casual hook ups ended years ago. She supposed that, yeah, maybe once...or twice she was kinda attracted to blondie, kinda. When Jo first came to Peekskill County, she was a 1st year Medical Student and very wet behind the ears even though she had been a volunteer EMT for a three years in high school. She had been, what, 24 at the time? Her first encounter with Nurse Warner was, memorable to say the least.

She had bumped into Blair in the cafeteria and did not know who she was yet. Jo was still working her moves on anything that walked, talked and used the woman's lavatory so naturally Jo offered to buy the nurse a coffee which Blair politely declined. Jo couldn't just let it go so she offered tea, pop...me? That had been the wrong move and Nurse Warner tore a strip off the poor medical student in front of many other people, including the Senior Resident at the time, Dr. George Burnett. Jo left the cafeteria with her tail between her legs, feeling very much like a scolded child. The next time she saw Nurse Warner was when Dr. Andy Moffat, a first year resident, introduced the medical students to the Trauma team, including one Nurse Warner. She wasn't Charge nurse yet but she was gunning for it as anyone could see.

After that encounter in the cafeteria, Blair treated Jo with such disdain that it became unbearable, thus how the whole discord between them started. How long ago was that, Jo thought, like 6 years? Gee, I was such a jerk back then.

"Dr. Polniazcek, the patient is ready." Blair said, giving Jo a slight frown.

"Oh yeah, right. Okay let's have a look...simple. Nurse I need the .18 suture and a quarter inch needle. I'd say six stitches? You concur?" Jo said eyeing the girls bloody arm, and then looking at Blair.

Blair looked up and gave Jo a confused look, "Six sounds right, and can I suggest using the .12, the girl's skin is quite thin."

Jo grinned, ".12 it is. Thank you Nurse Warner."

Jo sat down and began to work on Kelly Affinado's arm. Blair assisted and Jo found that this Nurse really knew her way around a bloody gouged arm. Many nurses could assist just as well but they sometimes were more of a hindrance than anything else. They chatted about boyfriends and babies and other boring subjects, and it could annoy Jo to no end. She didn't want to hear about how the nurses husband doesn't clean up after the cat or why her kid likes Xbox but not homework.

Warner just skilfully handed the instruments to Jo without idle chit chat or asking inane questions about Jo's life outside of the hospital. It was refreshing, really.

Soon Affinado's arm was stitched up and Jo asked Blair to bandage it up. Jo tossed her gloves into the trash and washed her hands. As she dried them, she looked over at Blair and smiled, "Thank you, Nurse. You certainly have a flair for suturing."

"Thank you. It was my pleasure assisting you." Blair said as she completed bandaging up Affinado's arm.

Kelly watched the exchange and rolled her eyes as she jumped off the exam table, "Do ya two need a room or something? Sheesh."

Jo watched as the young woman sauntered out of the exam room and into the ER where Jerry caught up with her holding a bill. Bah-Zing, thought Jo happily. That'll teach ya for being stupid. She then wanted to say something witty to Blair but she had already left the room and Jo was just standing there looking rather silly. Dammit, why can't work just be friggin' work.