A/N: Welcome to the final chapter! (Which, by the way, turned out a lot longer than planned). Thanks so much to everyone who's read, reviewed, and enjoyed my first 21 Jump Street fic :)
At 9 AM sharp, Doug arrived at the Metropolitan Police Academy obstacle course for his physical. He was wearing what was specified in the letter: his academy sweatsuit and running shoes. No jewelry was allowed, so his Saint Michael medal was tucked safely into one of his sneakers. He almost never went anywhere without that necklace. He stretched nervously as he waited in line to check in. Much to his embarrassment, he had to be weighed in front everyone because the test required him to bench 60% of his body weight. He was briefed on what the test would entail, then told to stand in line to wait for his turn.
The officers were taking the test in alphabetical order, which meant Doug was stuck near the back of the line. He tried not to let his anxiety show in his face or body language as he took notice of the three ambulances parked around the course. A female paramedic was sitting on the tailboard of one, keeping a close eye on the proceedings. She was baby-faced and very petite, her dark blond hair held up by a plastic clip. She had a stethoscope wrapped across her shoulders and her uniform shirt appeared to be quite stiff. Doug guessed that either someone had used too much starch at the cleaners or she hadn't been doing the job for very long.
There was nothing for Doug to do now but watch other people run through the course. Doug became increasingly disquieted as a number of walking wounded staggered off the course and toward the waiting ambulances. The temperature climbed higher. All too soon, one of the academy's PT instructors was shouting: "Douglas Penhall! You're up!" Doug approached the man, who lead him to the test's first station: the bench press.
'At least I get to start with something easy,' Doug thought. He'd always had pretty good upper-body strength.
After easily benching the required amount of weight, Doug moved on to the push-up test and then he easily dragged the obstacle course's heavy, life-sized dummy 100 feet.
'Piece of cake,' Doug said inwardly as he scaled the 6-foot high wooden wall.
He belly-crawled through a tunnel composed of chain-link fencing, only snagging his sweatshirt on it once. He jumped through a simulated window, did pull-ups, and crossed a set of monkey bars. The last task of the obstacle course was the sit-up test. Doug was barely 30 seconds into it when his abdominal muscles began screaming in pain; he decided that not eating breakfast had been a smart choice.
"All right, Penhall," the instructor said when Doug was finished, "you passed the obstacle course." He walked Doug to the track that was near the course entrance. "The last portion of your physical is the run. It's a quarter-mile track, so that means 6 laps equals a mile-and-a-half. You got 15 minutes starting..." He clicked his stopwatch. "Now."
Without further ado, Doug broke into a sprint. He was able to keep up that pace for about the first two laps, then he substantially slowed down. He was sweating profusely. He couldn't decide whether his calves or thighs hurt more. He jogged lightly, trying to massage a painful stitch out of his side. Doug was inwardly panicked because he wasn't sure how much time was left to finish the run. He put on another burst of speed as he rounded the next curve and maintained it throughout his next laps. Finally, the instructor signaled for him to stop.
"Three minutes to spare," said the man as he scribbled on his clipboard. "You're cleared for duty, Penhall. See ya next year."
Doug nodded, struggling to catch his breath. He felt terrible as he came off the track. His arms, legs, and the muscles in his stomach kept cramping sharply; he was dizzy and exhausted. He could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears. He felt nauseated and retreated to a semi-private spot near the ambulance. He doubled over, but instead of throwing up, he only managed to dry-heave painfully.
"Do you need some help?" said a soft female voice behind him.
He didn't answer right away because he was still retching. "Yeah," said Doug when he was finally able to stop. His legs were shaking now.
The paramedic stepped to the side of Doug and ducked underneath his arm. He recognized her as the very young one who'd been perched on the back bumper. She grabbed the back of his sweatshirt with one hand and held the other in front of him at roughly his chest level.
"Come on, just lean on me," she said. "You're not gonna fall."
Doug, sick as he was feeling, hesitated a little. He probably weighed twice as much as this woman and he didn't want to hurt her. But other than being miserable, what choice did he have? Slowly, he and the medic made their way over to the ambulance. A male paramedic approached them.
"Hey," he said tensely, "somebody slipped off that climbing wall. Looks like a possible broken leg, maybe a wrist too. They need some extra hands. Think you can handle this guy by yourself, rook?"
"Yeah, I got him," said the woman, grunting a little under Doug's weight. She helped him up into the back of the ambulance. "What's your first name?" she asked, sitting him down on the gurney.
"Okay, Doug, I'm Sandy. Can you tell me where you are?"
"Parris Island?" Doug guessed.
'Sitting up should not be this hard,' he thought, feeling rivers of sweat trickling down his face and back.
Sandy pushed up Doug's sleeve so she could check his pulse; it was fast and weak. His face was pale. He was breathing shallowly. Those two things, added to the rest of the symptoms she'd observed and the weather, spelled heat exhaustion. She knew she had to work quickly on cooling him down before he had a heatstroke.
"Doug, it's too hot to be wearing that sweatsuit." she said as she pulled the doors shut. "Do you think you can get it off by yourself?"
He shook his head. Sandy pulled a pair of scissors from one of the pockets in her uniform pants and knelt next to Doug. She took the wet fabric into her hands and began to cut it with quick, efficient snips. Doug's sweatshirt fell away. Somewhere in his clouded mind, he was grateful for deciding to wear gym shorts under the sweatpants. Once the excess clothes were in a heap on the floor, Sandy removed her stethoscope from around her neck so she could listen to Doug's heart and lungs.
"I'm not feelin' so good right now," said Doug.
"I know." Sandy's tone was sympathetic. "But don't worry, you're in good hands. Take a deep breath for me."
After listening to his chest, Sandy took Doug's blood pressure, draped the stethoscope around her again, and began making notes of something on a clipboard.
"Your vitals are a little high but stable," she reported. "Do you know where you are?"
"In an ambulance?"
"Do you have any allergies, prescriptions, or medical problems?" she asked.
"Nope. I've always been pretty healthy."
"All right. Did you start seeing black spots at any point when you were outside?"
"Yeah, a few."
"You split that lip on the course?"
"Nah, that was yesterday."
Sandy flipped open the lid of a cooler that was sitting near her legs and pulled out a medium-sized plastic bag filled with ice.
"Here," she said, passing it to Doug. "Put that on the back of your neck."
Doug did as he was told.
"Is the ice helping?" Sandy inquired after several minutes.
He nodded. The fog in his head had cleared up enough that he could more fully appreciate being taken care of by a pretty girl. He wasn't sweating as much either.
"Do you think you can keep some fluids down?" asked Sandy.
"You have two options, Doug. I can try giving you something to drink or I can start a line on you right now."
Doug recalled from watching re-runs of Emergency! that "starting a line" involved sticking him with a needle. He didn't exactly have a phobia regarding needles, but they were still something he'd prefer to avoid if possible.
"I could use a drink, so make it a strong one," Doug teased.
Sandy took a bottle of Gatorade from the cooler and grabbed a small paper Dixie cup from a cabinet. She filled the cup almost to the top, then handed it to Doug. He winked at her as he raised the cup, threw his head back, and drained it. The ice-cold liquid hit his stomach hard, causing him to begin retching again. Sandy retrieved a wastebasket from the driver's compartment and set it in front of her patient. Doug didn't vomit, though not from lack of trying. Sandy held out her hand for the paper cup. Doug gave it to her.
"I feel worse now," he groaned once the nausea subsided a little.
"Well, you technically kept it down, which is a good sign," said Sandy, pouring more Gatorade into the cup. She passed the sports drink over to him. "Sip it this time," she warned. "You're not doing shots at the bar."
Doug nodded, grinning sheepishly. He drank the next cup much more slowly.
"Can I buy the lady a round?" he offered when he was done.
Sandy chuckled. "Thanks, but I'm covered." She reached into the cooler and pulled out a can of Sprite. Cracking it open, she said, "One more question I have to ask, Doug. When was the last time you ate anything?"
Sandy pulled out a drawer, extracting from it two individual of packets of saltine crackers. Doug accepted them, opened a pack, and gingerly took a bite of cracker.
"No wonder you were feeling so terrible," said Sandy. "Your blood sugar probably bottomed out on top of everything else."
"So can I go now?" Doug asked after finishing all the crackers. Being in the back of the ambulance was starting to make him claustrophobic.
"Protocol says you have to drink the rest of this first," Sandy informed him, holding up the Gatorade bottle.
"Okay, but...uh...can you open those doors?"
"I have to make sure you stay cool and that's keeping the air-conditioning in."
"Please?" Doug's tone grew anxious. His hands were shaking. "Just-just crack 'em a little. I got this thing-"
Sandy walked to the doors and pushed them slightly ajar. The last thing she needed was someone having a panic attack in the back of her bus when she didn't have a partner to help her out. Doug instantly calmed down once he could see outside. Time passed in relative silence as Doug worked on the Gatorade, save for the gentle scratching of Sandy's pen on her clipboard. The sound of the bottle dropping into the trash can brought her out of her reverie. Doug lifted his right foot out of his shoe enough so he could retrieve his medal.
"Am I okay to leave?" Doug asked, slipping the silver chain over his head.
Sandy double-checked his vital signs. They were normal again and some color had returned to his cheeks.
"Yeah, you should be fine," she confirmed. "You just have to sign this transport refusal form."
Doug skimmed it before scrawling his name at the bottom. Being Doug Penhall, he couldn't resist a little more flirting. "So later on, if I start feelin' worse, I can just call you to take care of me, right?"
"Yep. My number's on the back of the bus." Off his confused look, she added, "911."
Doug laughed. "Good one." He stood up and climbed out of the ambulance. "You take care of yourself, Sandy."
"You too, Doug. Hope you at least passed your physical after all this."
Doug gave her his famous Penhall smile before heading to the parking lot.
Even though he had the day off, Doug went to the chapel to report in to Jenko. He leaned against the doorjamb of the captain's office.
"What's up, Penhall?" asked Jenko.
"Just wanted to let you know I'm fit for duty, Jenk."
"Groovy!" Jenko cheered. He jumped out from behind his desk and clapped the stocky officer on the shoulder. "Far out, man. I didn't know what I was gonna do if you had to go. What it was gonna to do to Judy and Harry and that new kid Tom. I think he really looks up to you, man."
"I doubt he'd admit to it," said Doug.
Jenko checked his watch. "Well, it's about time for lunch, Doug. Whaddaya say to a couple Rocket Dogs on me?"
Doug pretended to think it over. "I'd say if you're buyin', throw in a side of cheese fries and some ice cream."
Jenko snickered. "You're a trip and a half, Penhall."
They headed out of Jenko's office and downstairs. Jenko drove them to the restaurant in his VW Bus. Once they placed their orders, Doug started drumming his fingers impatiently on the countertop.
"Does this mean you're finally off that diet kick?" questioned Jenko.
"You know about that?"
"Yeah," he said. "Jude came to my office a few days ago and said she was worried about ya, man. I wasn't plannin' on sayin' anything 'cause I saw you with that chili dog, but, y'know, I wanted to make sure everything's cool. Think you scared poor Jude a little."
"Yeah, I know," Doug mumbled guiltily. "I'm sorry, Jenk. I didn't mean to. I was just worked up about this test and thought I could do better if I was...y'know...skinnier."
"Lemme tell ya somethin', Doug," Jenko began. "We're a team and you guys all got positions, just like in football. Judy, she's the brains. New guy's the walking rulebook. Harry's quick on his feet. You're the muscle. I need you to keep up your strength 'cause you're the one I depend on in case somethin' goes wrong. I know you can handle yourself and you'll do whatever it takes to get Tom, Judy, or Harry outta harm's way. Ya dig?"
Doug nodded. "Yeah. I, uh, I never knew you felt that way about me, Jenk."
"You guys are like kids to me and we all have each other's backs. That's what makes Jump Street work..." Jenko trailed off, noticing the waitress coming out of the kitchen and toward the table. "Hold that thought. Order's up, Dougie."
"And just in time. I'm starvin'."
The waitress set down their orders and the two cops got down to the serious business of enjoying their lunch.