[JB] Good Job, Soldier (Chapter 1)
Warning: explicit description of injuries and death
General prompt: Soldier!Jaebum and Annabelle have to work through eachother’s anxiety to find their balance. Turns out being in a relationship is much more complicated, but much more better when the person is physically there all the time.
A/N: y’all said you wanted this, so if I don’t have comments or notes or reactions, I’m leaving this world! Hope y’all like it :) Here’s the little shie shit he looks like in the fic.
Sexual Healing’s melody was coming out of her mouth in a joyful whistle as she ambled through the automatic glass doors of the Hail Mary hospital’s ER. Her good mood was as obvious as an elephant in a porcelain store. She wasn’t trying to hide it, because she knew there was no way she could. Idly, she wondered if it was because she wanted the whole world to know.
“Someone’s in a good mood today.” Jesse observed as he walked past her, statoscope around his neck. She stopped the melody before the chorus and whirled, her black and shiny hair following the motion in a graceful manner. The grin she flashed was worth diamonds.
“Really? Who?” She joked, making the department director chuckle and shake his head before he disappeared in a patient’s room. Annabelle arrived to the circular counter in the hall, where her colleagues were grouped, indulging to the usual pre-shift chat about sports, music, weekends spent and medicine.
“Hi, everyone.” Her voice was almost a sing-song. The soft blabber around the counter toned down, as her radiant mood stimulated people’s interest. The receptionist, Bertha, crooked a delicate eyebrow at her.
“Hi, bubbly. What’s that happy smile of yours for?” She asked lightly, handing her a tablet so she could check in.
“I masturbated before coming.” Annabelle lied- or maybe she didn’t, while making a pun. This time, the team went quiet. All kinds of stares turned to her form as her shoulders shook with mirth. Some were surprised, some intrigued, some amused.
“You too?” Michael, a surgeon, smirked from the other end of the hall. Annabelle stopped laughing and gave the man a sideways glance.
“Ew.” Christine, an intern shivered dramatically.
“Why is me masturbating more disgusting that her masturbating?” Michael was aggravated.
“Because she’s hot. You’re 70.” Christine retorted, 70 being a hyperbola. He had the mentality of a 70-year-old man, but he was just only above half of that.
“Don’t you know women love experience, lil’ squirt?” Scott chimed in, since he was around Michael’s age.
“They also love stamina.” Annabelle declared, handing the tablet back to the amused receptionists. She was not sure this discussion took the turn she wanted.
“I have stamina now that I’ve started exercising again.” Michael said, confidently. “Me and Jenna went at it for a whole ten minutes yesterday.”
And that was it. A general “ew” filled the room, disgraceful images popping up and polluting everyone’s mind.
“I regret everything I said.” Annabelle grumbled, shaking her head in hopes of getting the image of the couple rutting against each other out of her mind. Everyone fled Michael like a disease, clearing a safety radius around the speechless man. Annabelle headed towards the lockers.
“Caleb.” She called, glimpsing another colleague striding inside the hall. The tall, blond and sickeningly beautiful doctor lifted his head from his folder, eyes landing on Annabelle.
“Hi, beautiful.” He smiled as he hopped her way to him.
“I need to leave on time today.” She explained, and it didn’t take any more for him to understand she needed a favor. “If you take my last patients, I’ll try to get you a shift off.” She promised. In his mind, Caleb had already accepted, and many questions had popped in his head since she started talking.
“Why do you need to leave on-” He stopped, answering the question alone in his head. He gave her a knowing smile. “JB’s coming home today, isn’t he?“
Annabelle beamed at him, not feeling the need to corroborate or deny it.
“Is that a yes?”
“Most definitely.” Caleb chuckled, walking backwards in the same direction he was going before Annabelle stopped him. “If I can help your B.O.B get a night off.” He pointed his folder at her.
“I don’t have a B.O.B."
"I do.” Caleb retorted, making Annabelle’s jaw drop and a snort escape her nose. She was always taken aback by his brazenness. It’s something people would associate with an extravagant and openly gay man, but Caleb was just obnoxious and bisexual. And he did have a battery operated boyfriend.
“How big is it?”
When Caleb showed her his fist and winked, she lost it. Giggling, she turned on her heels and headed for the lockers room.
“Attention, everyone!” Bertha yelled before she could take two steps. She whirled around, watching the night shit team closing in around the counter. Bertha stood.
“A bus transporting homecoming soldiers back from Syria was involved in an accident.” Her words were followed by a general gasp, and silence. Annabelle brought her hand to her mouth, logically assuming it was JB’s bus. Her heart tightened and worry threatened to consume her on the post.
“Those coming here are three minutes away. There are at least a dozen of injuries, prepare all trauma rooms and blocks, this going to be intense.“ Bertha said, and everyone started to bustle up in all directions. Annabelle dragged an anxious hand through her hair and headed back towards the lockers.
"Annabelle!” Caleb called behind her. She briefly turned around but didn’t slow down, knowing he was catching up with her anyway. In the lockers room, Annabelle tossed her bag to the floor and took her clothes off without minding Caleb’s presence.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked, worry in his voice.
“You heard her, there are a dozen injured soldiers.” She replied, throwing her scrubs on. She knew Caleb didn’t ask that just because there were a dozen injuries. What worried him was the same thing that worried her.
“I don’t know of JB is injured yet. I’ll find out, and I’ll take care of him.” She convinced herself, not even evoking the possibility of him being dead.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” Caleb said quietly. Annabelle closed her locker - she wasn’t listening.
Her mind was crowded with JB when she came out of the building. Sounds were muffled, the scene passing in slow motion. She couldn’t stop thinking about him. She felt like she needed to find him before being able to operate properly.
Six ambulances were already there when she came out. The soldiers were just getting carried out, and more than ten doctors, interns and nurses were already working on them. Her eyes swiped through the panorama unfolding- but she didn’t see him.
The cry pulled her out of her reverie. Suddenly, the sounds were much clearer. She heard the loud babble of shouting doctors and panicking soldiers. She turned her head to the side and saw Drew, panicked next to a stretcher.
Her legs feeling like cooperating (thank god), she took quick steps towards the man in distress.
"What is it?” She asked, grabbing a pen from her pocket. Drew’s hand was shaking as he lifted the bloody bandage covering the unconscious soldier’s torso.
“The guts.” He said, showing her how they were sticking out through his wound. Annabelle took a closer look - it didn’t seem to bleed excessively.
“It looks much worse than it actually is. They’ll sort it out in the OR.” She said calmly, writing down a few instructions on his arm in case he got lost in the hospital.
“Take him upstairs and page Dr Buchanan!” She shouted, stepping away. She had to find JB.
“Anna!” Caleb called as another ambulance arrived. She knew she should reply but she had to see who was in there first.
She helped the door open and a first-aider jumped out, pulling the stretcher with him.
Annabelle first saw his legs, one was bloody and bandaged. When they put the stretcher down, she got to have a closer glimpse at his face.
The man was conscious, small, slanted eyes open wide and looking up, neck immobilized by a neck brace. His lips were parted and let escape, quick, panicked breaths as the stretcher came down to the ground. She recognized him instantly, torn between relief and terror.
“JB.” She murmured in shock. “Jaebum!” She said, rushing closer and towering above him. JB saw her appear in front of his eyes, a strangled cry of what she thought was relief escaping him.
“Annabelle!” He breathed, his pupils searching actively across her face. He looked terrified. She took the trembling hand on his chest and squeezed it, recognizing the same fear she saw on almost every of her injured patient. She only thought about the feeling of his hand in hers for a second or two, noticing how warm his palm felt.
“Annabelle, Annabelle, I can’t move.” He explained hurriedly, and she knew, she almost saw the tachycardia creeping. She could see his head was sinking between his shoulders as if he was shrugging.
She let herself go to anxiousness for a nanosecond, before quickly going back in doctor mode.
Okay, he was injured, and she was going to take care of him, because there was no way after all this time she was losing him. First, she had to ask the first-aider what was wrong with him, then make the necessary analysis, and act upon her conclusion. Easy.
“What does he have?” She asked the female first- aider.
“He snapped his neck. Dislodged a cervical or two. Severe contusion on his leg. Glasgow at five.” She said quickly, pushing the stretcher towards the door. She had to let his hand go to get him inside. JB kept on begging, immobile and powerless on the stretcher.
“Caleb!” Annabelle called, following with long strides. The doctor looked up from his patient.
“Caleb, it’s JB!” She begged. “Please, Caleb!”
Caleb got another doctor to help his patient and ran to Annabelle.
“What does he have?” He asked as they rushed through the glass doors.
She didn’t know how she did it, but she didn’t burst into tears. Her medical mind wasn’t that perturbed, and she was the calmest she could be, despite what everyone else would expect from her, despite what she expected from herself. She did hear her heart swell, twist and break when she realized he was injured, but she was still on her feet and at least he was conscious. They were extra careful when they moved JB out of the stretcher onto his hospital bed, not wanting to hurt his spinal cord.
“Annabelle.” Jaebum called for the hundredth time. Her name was his only mark point, everything he knew at that moment.
“I’m here, Jaebum.” Annabelle stopped her frantic ordering and stilled, standing next to his bed while everyone kept getting busy around them.
“It’s not a fracture, is it?” He asked.
“You just snapped your neck. Can you move your toes?” She replied.
“Y-yeah.” He blinked
“It’s nothing too serious, then. You’ll be just fine if you keep still.” She advocated.
“4 years in combat, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, bombardments and shootings and I never got hurt, I come home and now that?” He muttered.
“I thought you would greet me with flowers and a teddy bear.” She said playfully. She was joking like she would do with any panicky patient, but she thought it would help her more that it would help him. When JB smirked back at her, she felt a little bit calmer. He looked like a cheeky little boy when he smirked. Like he was up to no good. That’s what she thought the first time she saw him. She thought he smelled like big trouble.
“I knew you wanted something more dramatic.” He murmured, his eyes twinkling.
“Well, I’m served.” She retorted. He didn’t snipe anything back, and just kept looking at her. People were busy around them, plugging him into a monitor and giving him an IV while taking a blood sample. JB took time to appreciate her face, and she did the same thing. He stated to feel warm in his chest. She was finally there, in front of him.
“Hi.” He greeted her absently. Annabelle smiled.
“Hi.” She replied, before Caleb’s voice pulled her back to reality.
“Annabelle.” He said, and when she looked up, everyone around them had stopped moving. JB was stabilized, he just needed to change into a hospital gown to go up for a scan. She nodded, embarrassment creeping up her cheeks as she realized how far she had gone with him.
“We’re going to prepare you for a scan, okay? So we can know what to do.” She explained to him. Jaebum nodded and he had noticed how pink her cheeks were turning.
“Okay, sweet cheeks.” He teased.
There were two soldiers who had to pass an MRI before JB, so they waited in his room until the machine was free. Annabelle stayed with him while Caleb went out and helped with other patients. The door slid open, and Annabelle looked up to find five soldiers in the doorstep.
“Hello.” They greeted her. Jaebum could only look at the ceiling but recognized the voices. The soldiers were all lightly injured. They had bandages and stitches but nothing too serious.
“Captain Im.” One of them called.
“Guys.” Jaebum replied. Annabelle hesitated to incline his bed up so he could see them but decided otherwise since she still didn’t know how his spinal cord was. “Are you all okay?”
“Yes, sir.” The same one replied.
“Wilson, report.” Jaebum ordered hoarsely. Another first class pushed his way to the front of the small crowd and stood straight with his hands behind his back. He looked straight in front of him.
“Stevenson didn’t make it, sir.” He announced.
“My god…” Jaebum sighed, and Annabelle was pained by his facial expression.
“He’s the only one for now. Edward and Lopez are in critical condition.” He added.
“Thank you, soldier.” Jaebum said quietly, before lifting his thumb and pointing towards his doctor. “This is Annabelle, by the way.”
“Oh.” Wilson’s eyes widened. His serious expression broke into a lighter one, and all eyes turned to her. They knew about her?
“Cap’s one hell of a lucky bastard isn’t he?” He said, looking back at his fellow soldiers who’s eyes had widened as well, but they were surprised because of his words, not Annabelle. Wilson turned back around before he could see one of his colleagues making a “cut it’ hand motion around his throat and kept going. “He told us you were hot, but man was that an understatement.” He said appreciatively, his hands coming in front of him and his thumbs tucked in his belt. Annabelle slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Wilson.” Jaebum barked. The soldier jumped and put his hands back behind his back, face locked and eyes hard. Annabelle was impressed.
‘Sorry, sir.” He said too loudly. Jaebum sighed.
“I’ll be fine, just snapped my neck. Out of my sight. All of you.” He ordered.
“I had a reservation for tomorrow night.” Jaebum spoke from inside the MRI machine. His face was on display in the control room, the screen showing a close-up shot of his face for Annabelle, Caleb, and the technician in charge of the machine to observe. The angle wasn’t flattering at all, but Annabelle found him handsome either way. The technician gave her a funny look but she didn’t pick up on it. She, for the very first time, put her fear of exposing herself aside and decided not give Jaebum all the reassurance he needed. She pressed the intercom button to respond.
“Did you?” She prompted. She was uncomfortable; she didn’t share a lot of her private life to anyone but Caleb, but kept going.
“Yeah. I know you’re more of a Netflix and chill kind of gal, but- I don’t know…” Jaebum murmured, looking up at the ceiling just a few inches above his forehead.
“It may have been almost 9 months, it’s the first time we meet so… I wanted to impress you.” He admitted bashfully, and boy it was a show to watch this man blush.
“You are impressing me, JB. That was one hell of an arrival, wasn’t it?” Annabelle joked to put him at ease. He laughed a little, his amused expression quickly dissolving into a deep frown.
“And the other car’s driver? Did he die?” He asked.
“I don’t know.” Annabelle replied quickly. ‘I’ll try to find that out for you.”
Jaebum huffed, and she could almost see his mind starting to reel with all kinds of thoughts.
“I managed not to lose any of my men back there.” He said bitterly. “That would be one funny fucking joke if- “
“JB.” She cut him off. “Calm down.” She said softly. “Do you know what I had planned for tomorrow?”
“No.” He replied, curiosity in his voice and on his face.
“I was going to tell you to meet me at Wallace’s.” She confessed, and she wasn’t proud of that sappy side of hers. Going back where they first met was such a classic move, but it was what she wanted to go. She didn’t want to want to do that, but it made her realize how human she actually was.
“We would have remembered the night we met, eaten a whole lot because I know how you miss real food.”
Jaebum groaned, closing his eyes. She thought he might look like that when orgasming.
“I could murder a doughnut.” He muttered.
“I’ll take you to a nice place when you recover.” She promised. Jaebum hummed and smiled, his eyes opening.
“I’m a little bit disappointed.” He admitted quietly. “I didn’t even get to hold you yet. I still kind of miss you.” He said, and Annabelle felt her cheeks heat up. She was trying to put aside her fear of being exposed but she had her limits. She glanced at Caleb and the technician who were lowering their heads uncomfortably. She blushed furiously. She knew Caleb and her were going to have a long discussion about everything that happened today.
“Just be a little more patient.” She mumbled. And strangely, it’s only at that moment she decided to do to what she was here for. She looked at his scan.
“You know I’m not.” Jaebum retorted.
“You’ve waited a while already.” She reminded hm. She was on his scan that there was no apparent fracture. He just had dislocated his neck.
“And I nearly lost my mind.” He muttered.
“So.“ Annabelle prompted, pushing his bed forward with the help of Caleb. "There is no fracture but you did snap it quite brilliantly.” She said.
“And I thought you were dramatic.” Jaebum grumbled in a sigh.
“So what are we going to do to snap it back in place, cap?” Annabelle asked.
“Traction and weights?” He proposed. Annabelle thought he was too good to be a soldier. He should have become a doctor; he would have been brilliant.
“You wouldn’t be laying here like this if you had become a doctor.” She reminded him, and she thought she was smooth.
“Trust me, if I had become a doctor, I would have shined so brightly you would probably have hated me.” Jaebum sassed, overconfident.
“Oh, sure enough, cap.” Annabelle mocked, and he laughed silently.
“You’ll stay with me?” He asked quietly. When Annabelle looked down at him, his eyes were soft and calm and he had a faint smile on his face.
“Yeah, I’ll take care of you.” She murmured, but then she thought they were getting too intimate for her own taste.
“Needy old man.” She added. Jaebum laughed out loud.
“Shut up.” She giggled. She glanced up at Caleb who had been a silent watcher all night.
“Uh, I guess you’ve met Caleb now.“ Annabelle said, realizing the two hadn’t spoken to each other yet.
"Yeah. Nice to meet you.” Jaebum rasped.
“Nice to meet you, captain. I thought it would be around a beer, but that’s great too.” Caleb replied.
“You can call be JB, pal.“ Jaebum said as they entered his room. They parked his bed.
"I’ll go grab the halo and Catherine to suture his leg. Be back in a sec.” He said before disappearing, not leaving Annabelle time to say anything.
She looked back at her soldier, and he was smiling as if he was up to something. He just always had that look, always. Jaebum’s eyes travelled across her face, she had the greenest eyes ever. Her pupils were like freshly picked apples, and they were big and nicely slanted, and her hair looked soft and shiny. He looked at her mouth and licked his own lips. Her mouth looked like a real life emoji. So pretty. So pretty.
“Kiss me.” He whispered, thinking he was speaking to himself but actually ordering her. He looked back up at her eyes Annabelle almost gasped. They couldn’t kiss right now. Well, they could but…
“I’m scared I’ll hurt you.” She murmured. If she had kissed him the way she wanted to kiss him, he would break his neck a few times. Jaebum smirked.
“You denying me is what’s hurting me right now.” He complained playfully. "What did your oath say again? Yeah ‘Do no harm’.“ He quoted, and he was getting smart-assed again.
"And the harm is real, right now. You’re a doctor aren’t you? And your patient’s in need for some TLC. You’re harming me so-” He was cut off by Annabelle rolling her eyes in the rudest way he had ever witnessed. He gasped and almost choked.
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, young girl.” He scolded, frowning deeply.
“And you say I’m dramatic.” She snorted. Jaebum made a noise of disapproval and wriggled his fingers until he caught her hand in his.
“Just one.” He said more seriously, his thumb stroking her knuckles. She had delicate hands, her fingers were incredibly thin an and feminine. "Come on.“
"Captain…” Annabelle whined, and Jaebum squeezed her hand.
“Kiss me, soldier.” He said more firmly. Annabelle arched a brow at him. "It’s an order.“ Jaebum genuinely hoped authority would work on her this time, even if she was a brat. Annabelle sighed, caving in, not so reluctantly.
When she leaned close and nuzzled him, he smiled. She smelled good, she smelled like strawberry ice cream. She pressed her lips against his, and they were the sweetest thing he had ever tasted. It was soft and warm and tender, and he wanted to grab the back of her neck and pull her close, be engulfed in her and her sweetness. He couldn’t move though, could only hum in sheer approval and try to coax her mouth open with a soft lick of his tongue.
Annabelle felt a moan bubble in her back of her throat. She pulled away reluctantly; she couldn’t be seen like that. She stayed close to his face, breathing the same air as him and she met his clouded eyes. Jaebum licked his lips and smirked again.
“You have no idea how bad I’ve wanted this.” He whispers dreamily. She shook her head and straightened her back, and realized her legs were wobbly. He had way too much effect on her. It was just a kiss, for god’s sake. But she knew it would feel like this. It felt like this the first time they met too. When all the tension and bustle from the incident that brought them together faded away and they were left alone in that restaurant. Right before she left in an ambulance, the three little words he said before he closed the doors of the vehicle made her feel like that too.
“You’re a pretty good kisser, cap. Do they teach that in the army?” She teased, to hide how devastated she was. He chuckled and narrowed his eyes.
“Shut up.” He said, smiling fondly at her. He appreciated the sight of her once more, eyes lingering on the faint freckles on her cheeks and nose.
“You look even more beautiful in real life.” He complimented out of the blue, frowning. “Never saw those freckles on my screen. And I don’t remember them from the time you fell head over hills for me.” He murmured. He really was a jerk. But they both realized how poor video quality made them underestimate their respective attractiveness. Annabelle didn’t react. Instead, she crossed her arms over her chest and appreciated his face.
“Never saw that grey hair on my screen.” She observed. Jaebum’s eyebrows brushed his hairline.
“You’re making fun of my age again, huh?” He said, a threat in his voice. “Annabelle, you are such a brat. I’ve always wanted to tell you this.”
“I’m not.” She shook her head, but really she was.
“You are. so. rude.” He said pointedly. "And I’m not used to that. I have obedient first classes.“
"Well, I’m not one of your soldiers, captain.” She mocked, proud to be insolent. Caleb and Catherine arrived with the equipment, pulling them out of their reverie.
“We have to start now, JB.” Annabelle said softly as Caleb laid the impressive installment on a table. Catherine sat down next to his bed around his leg.
“Alright.” Jaebum agreed and took a deep breath. She put gloves on and grabbed one of the three syringes to numb his scalp.
“You okay?” Annabelle asked out of reflex, even though she knew it hurt and there was nothing she could do to prevent it.
“Yep.” Jaebum voice was tight like he was holding his breath. She smirked at his bluffing.
“We don’t give extra points for pain tolerance.” She reminded him, and she scoffed, hissed when Caleb inserted the second needle.
“What does it change if I admit it hurts? You can’t numb me before the numbing.” Jaebum retorted.
“You talk too much.”
Jaebum cracked a loud laugh. Annabelle was definitely disrespectful to him. He was an army guy, and she was some your girl and couldn’t even drink a glass of wine without getting pissed.
“Rude.” He muttered. Annabelle took care of the needle at the top of his head and Jaebum gritted his teeth. She then grabbed the Crutchfield stirrup and Caleb and her aligned it with the numbed spots on his skull.
“You’re going- “
“To feel a little pressure. Yeah.” Jaebum cut Caleb off.
“Stop trying to look smart.” Annabelle teased.
“You have a medical education, captain?” Catherine asked somewhere around his legs. Annabelle and Caleb started to tighten the bolts on each of his temples.
“I enlisted right before my internship.” Jaebum explained.
“You were going to be a doctor?”
“Yep.” He said proudly.
“When I met him, he was doing a tracheo in a restaurant.” Annabelle explains, remembering the scene.
“What?” Catherine utters. Caleb already knew the story.
“The guy had a penny in his throat. He was unconscious and too heavy for me, impossible to get it out.” Jaebum trailed off, smiling to himself. Annabelle still didn’t understand how he could find that funny. She had arrived when he was pulling the ink tube out of a pencil with his teeth, before pushing it right into the guy’s throat without even sterilizing it.
“I did the right thing but still got yelled at by an arrogant, righteous and devastatingly sexy doctor who was passing by.” He explained, sending a wink in Annabelle’s direction. Shad sunk onto her knees in her tight red dress and grabbed a napkin, all while telling Jaebum how much of an unconscious idiot he was. She had presented herself to the men who had gasped for air, eyes opening wide. Jaebum said he had done the right thing while she secured the makeshift instalment with strings of cut napkins. She yelled at him and took over.
How surprised was she to receive an e-mail a week later from the same guy she called stupid and all kinds of bird names. He had remembered her name and looked her up, found her linked-in profile and stalked her. That’s what Annabelle reproached him in her reply to his e-mail but even to this day Jaebum kept saying he wasn’t being a creep. They fell in love over skype, and tonight they were supposed to do something cute to celebrate their reunion.
“If that man had decided to sue you-“
“Why would he have sued me?” Jaebum exclaimed, and Annabelle almost pinched his nipple.
“Because someone who wasn’t a doctor sliced his throat open?” She proposed, and Jaebum rolled his eyes. Annabelle finished pushing the last bolt and wiped the blood around them, before Caleb finished the installation.
“Get me the weights, please.” Annabelle asked Christine who had finished suturing Jaebum’s leg. She nodded and executed the order. When Annabelle looked down at Jaebum, he was watching her with a smug look, smile crooked on the side of his face.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” She asked, frowning. He took a deep breath and gave her the fondest, sappiest look he could manage.
“You’re beautiful.” He said softly, and if they were playfully bickering ag first, the sincerity behind his words made her cheek heat. He breathed in and out as if short of breath.
“You need to stop that.” She muttered under her breath. Jaebum laughed.
“Never. You can smart-ass-comment me all day every day, be rude and bratty with me, but I live for that. For that embarrassed face of yours.” He said playfully, poking a finger at her cheek. She really was his sweet cheeks, his cute yet sexy girlfriend.
“That’s when I get the upper hand.” He breathed, letting his hand fall down when Annabelle swatted it away.
“You’re adorable.” He panted, his eyes disappearing behind his shit eating grin.
“I know. You can breathe now.” She deadpanned, and he snorted, chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Seriously, JB. Are you breathing normally?” She asked more worriedly, watching him frown and struggle.
“I’m feelin’ a little bit…” He trailed off and started panting loudly.
“Short of breath?” She asked, watching his vitals rile up, his saturation crumbling down.
“I can’t feel my legs.” He said, looking up at her with terrified eyes. The same look he had when he had been brought in. Christine returned with the weights.
Spinal cord, spinal cord, spinal fucking cord! Annabelle circled the bed and stood behind JB’s head.
“The bone must have moved; we don’t have time for the weights.” Annabelle said as Caleb, who had been watching and listening to their playful interaction with morbid interest, closed in, ready to take action.
“I take his head, you take his shoulders. On three.” Annabelle ordered. They were going to snap it back in place like that?!
“Annabelle.” Jaebum called in fear. Was it going to hurt? Caleb placed his hands on Jaebum’s shoulders and waited, and Annabelle put her hands under his chin.
“One, two, three.” He counted and pulled. There was a loud crack and Jaebum groaned loudly. He panted rapidly, looking up at the ceiling with wide eyes. My god, my god. He thought.
“How are you feeling?” Annabelle asked.
“My legs.” He shouted.
“I don’t get it.” She muttered, turning and searching for his X rays. “Let me look at his scan.”
Caleb pulled them out and showed her a first sheet. She brought up to the light and looked closely. She didn’t see anything wrong in the peripheral of his injury- at first.
“There is blood compressing his spinal cord, get him in the OR.” Annabelle ordered after a beat, not even taking time for wondering just how she did not see that earlier. She went to lift the brakes of his bed, but JB stopped everyone.
“No!” He shouted. Caleb and Christine stopped, and Annabelle didn’t pick up on his refusal. Not as a refusal at least, just an expression of fear.
“You have internal bleeding. It’s compressing your spinal cord and you might end up paralyzed.” She explained quickly, persuaded that he just needed more details about what was going on.
“Put a thoracic drain, don’t touch my spinal cord.” He ordered, his voice clipped. That, made her realize. She moved and walked over the side of his bed to look at him. He was…angry.
“You have an internal bleeding not a pneumothorax.” She said slowly. JB looked at her right in the eyes, and his stare was indescribable. She thought that’s the look he gives to rude, smart-assed first classes like her.
“If you operate I can either be okay, or paralyzed.” He said slowly.
“Yes, we know.”
“I don’t want to.” He breathed. "I’d rather die. No surgery.“
"Captain Im.” Caleb pressed. It was a refusal.
“JB.” She started. “You-”
“No.” He cut her off, nostrils flaring. He was getting angry…at her. "I’m a team leader. A commander, a teacher and a chief. Either I’m all of that or I’m nothing.“ He declared. Annabelle was used to this kind of reaction from her patient. It was just fear overtaking, not actual anger directed to her, but from him, it was a little bit harder to ignore.
"I know it’s scary, but-”
“What the fuck do you know?!” He hissed, breathing harshly. Annabelle actually flinched at his words.
“I’m not going to live like that, I’m a soldier!” He said, and Annabelle stuttered, collecting her usual thoughts and arguments that had been scattered around her mind.
“Mr. Im-” Caleb tried.
“No!” He refused, eyes sweeping to him, before snapping back to Annabelle. He spoke more calmly.
“We met right before I left. You’re barely even my girlfriend.” He muttered. Annabelle didn’t gasp but felt the need to. She let his bed go and took a step back.
Woah, woah, woah. She thought.
“And you’re telling me you’ll support me?” He challenged. "You’ll take care of me?“
Both Caleb and Christine were waiting for her reaction. She wanted to cry; both pain and anger forming a tight knot in her throat.
"And you’d deal with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get my dick up for you before we even had sex?!” He spat. Christine and Caleb both lowered their heads in a “Oh, no” manner, their hand coming up to pinch their noses.
Annabelle was in shock. She hardly glared at him even if she wanted to. He was fine, kind and sweet a minute ago.
“You who likes to be banged against every fucking surface?!” He yelled for the whole hospital to hear. This time, Annabelle hid her face in her hand too. She decided she was done with him. And she was angry and deeply hurt.
He was exposing her now.
Over the months, she trusted him enough to share her sexual preferences with him. She regretted that.
“The door slid open but she didn’t bother to look.
"Captain, you should keep it low.” A soldier said quietly. Everyone in a 15-meter radius had heard that. If Annabelle could dissolve into a puddle of Lorazepam, she would have done just that.
“Did I summon your opinion, first class Wilson?” Jaebum hissed. Annabelle didn’t want to look. She just didn’t want to.
“No, sir.” The soldier replied.
“I’m not even paralyzed yet, and you start disrespecting me?”
“Out of my sight!” He yelled. Annabelle only looked up when the soldier left, decided to speak out and tell him when he was going to crawl back to her (because he was going to) she would not forgive him.
But her eyes met Jaebum’s cool stare, and he was impassible.
“You too.” He ordered her.
“Captain Im.” Caleb tried again.
“I do not give you my consent.” He articulated. “Get out.”
And Annabelle did. She stormed out because she wasn’t able to deal with him at that moment. She just turned on her heels and fled, freezing when she realized the hall had turned silent. Injured soldiers and colleagues all staring at her. All those people were aware that she liked to be "banged against every fucking surface”
Mortified, she lowered her head and took quick strides to the lockers room, where she busted into tears.
Doctors were used to have their nerves tested, being insulted and disregarded. They always knew it was part of the deal, and all the comments from ungrateful patients, and from anyone really, always hit a wall. But when they let someone in, it wasn’t the same. They could get severely hurt if they let someone.
She flared like an angry bull, hitting both of her fists on a lock. Once, twice, letting the frustration out and not seeming to be able to stop.
"Hey, hey, hey!“ Caleb called, rushing inside the room with her.
"Annabelle!” He said, grabbing her shoulders and turning he around. Her face had turned an angry crimson, her eyes big and tearful and swollen, snot running down onto he top lip, and she was huffing loudly. She was a funny mess, but Caleb thought she was beautiful. She heaved and shoved at his chest, but he didn’t budge.
“Annabelle, calm down!” He shook her until she stopped her futile fight. She sobbed, and he pulled her to him, cradling her head against his shoulder. He was tall and strong and muscular and she always felt safe around him.
“You need to calm down, baby girl.” He murmured, hands slowly caressing her hair and back, and she was shaking and had trouble breathing.
“Breathe, sweetheart. Breathe.” He crooned. And it broke his heart to see her like this. He thought Jaebum was a good man. He must be if Annabelle had let him in like that, and part of him started doubting that. It’s not always good to have people that can hurt you around you. Yes, it just shows how smitten she is, if he can have her crying like that, but that doesn’t mean he’s right for her.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean what he said.” He murmured. Annabelle pulled away, and she had strands of hair sticking to her cheeks and forehead. She wiped her snot on the back of her hand in the most unladylike manner, but she looked adorable.
“In front of everyone.” She sobbed.
“I know, sweetheart. I know.” Calen concurred, hands coming her to cup her face. His thumb stroked her cheeks back and forth. When his beeper when off, he winced.
“Look.” He said, letting her go and taking a quick glance at the device in his pocket.
“I have to go, I’m sorry. You take a minute and go for a walk, okay?” He proposed, giving her shoulders a squeeze. Annabelle nodded and hiccupped.
“Leave the lockers alone.” He ordered; and he meant it. Annabelle nodded again. She wasn’t going to hit them again, her hands hurt.
“Thank you.” She said quietly. Caleb hummed and kissed her temple. She was so sweet to him.
“Anytime, baby girl.” He said before escaping.
Annabelle went to the adjacent bathroom, pulled her hair up in a ponytail and washed her face. Then she moisturized her skin with her cream and laid on a bench. She didn’t want to walk because it meant walking across the hall again. She thought she had been so useless, losing her time on a single patient who turned out to be an asshole. She thought she shouldn’t feel so hurt because he was just angry and scared, but she couldn’t help it. That’s something she hated about herself. She couldn’t help feeling deeply hurt even when she knew she had no reason to be.
“You’re going to get surgery.” She declared, and thought she was a little sure than she should be. JB just shot her a dirty look.
“Keep your ass out of this.” He grinded, and the words hurt. She knew it wasn’t like he was hurting her just to hurt her, but each syllable still felt like a blow. She waved a syringe.
“You see that?” She trailed off, watching Jaebum frown. Despite his current endeavor, Annabelle though Jaebum looked adorable when he was frowning. He looked almost like a baby.
“This drug is going to put you to sleep.” She said, circling his bed to were his IV was.
“Annabelle!” Jaebum bristled, balling his fists abruptly.
“I’ll open you myself if I have to.” Annabelle threatened, reaching for his IV.
“If you do this- Annabelle!” He yelled, huffing and puffing.
“I’ll never forgive you, I’ll sue you and this hospital, I’ll never fucking speak to you again, Annabelle.” He threatened as well. “You’re going to end our relationship before it even started.”
“Before it even started?!” Annabelle uttered, glaring at him. He couldn’t see her wrathful stare but he could most certainly feel it.
Annabelle snapped her head back, pulling the curtain between the two trauma rooms open and discovering first class Wilson slumped down the bed. Emma, an intern, was trying to get him to lay down. The man was unconscious and Emma was panicking.
“What’s going on?” Annabelle asked, putting her needle back in her pocket and striding inside the room, closing the curtain behind her. Another doctor joined them, along with a nurse, and they got him to lay on his back with both feet on the bed.
“I don’t know.” Emma stuttered, plugging him on the monitor so they could know what was going on. “He was fine, we were talking and he stopped breathing.” She explained. His heartbeat rate was completely flat.
“Asystole”. Get me a crash cart and start the massage.” Annabelle ordered. To other people, she would have sounded way too bossy, but she was just straight to the point; like all doctors are. Everyone here knew what everything was, everyone knew what to do, and every second was decisive, so there was none to waste on politeness. Christine stepped on the stool so she was towering over the unconscious soldier, joined her hands above each other and started the cardiac massage like she’d been taught to. When the kit was handed out to her, Annabelle leaned over the man and opened his mouth. She slid the tube in and pushed it down his throat, observing everything through the laryngoscope. She smacked her tongue in frustration.
“I can’t see the vocal chords.” She muttered.
“Clear.” The other doctor said, making her look up. He was holding the defibrillator ready. The soldier’s chest was exposed, revealing big brown cutaneous growths on his abdomen. The diagnostic came to her mind in a nanosecond. He was coming back from Syria; it had to be visceral leishmaniosis - Black fever.
At that moment, she knew he was going to die no matter what. Now it was just about giving him more time.
“One second.” She said quickly, tilting the tube back a little. The rosy strings appeared in front of her eyes.
“Okay.” She breathed, clipping the laryngoscope off and stepping away from the body. Dr Henry gave a first discharge; Christine immediately started massaging again but the monitor didn’t show any response. Annabelle attached the bag to the end of the tube.
“Charge.” The doctor announced. After another fifteen seconds of massaging and bagging, they all cleared a safe radius around the soldier before the shock.
They kept going for another thirty minutes, because they knew they could not lose him. A soldier, coming back from hell without dying couldn’t die back on the American soil. He hadn’t gone there just to die when he came back.
This guy had been fine an hour ago. He was young and he had served his country, he deserved to be saved at any cost.
Emma was panting, sweat bidding on her forehead as she kept massaging his torso in between each defibrillation, the steady flatness of the monitor telling her she’d have to do it again and again. She was sure she had broken a few of his ribs now, but it was a price anyone would be willing to pay to be saved.
Annabelle’s fingers were cramping from bagging him. It had been forty-five minutes. Dr Henry gave her a look she knew too well. She sighs, her fingers stilling. The monitor was flat and hope was gone. Emma was panting in rhythm with her massage, so focused on her task she hadn’t noticed everything had frozen around her.
“Emma.” Annabelle called, pulling the intern out of her daze- or fury. She looked up, her eyes were filled with tears. Annabelle gave her shoulder a squeeze and shook her head. She blinked a few times, as if she had forgotten where she was.
Emma nodded, wiping her tears away.
“Death time: 21:34.” Annabelle declared, sighing deeply. As soon as the adrenaline rush faded away and she was cruelly brought back to reality. A mix of disappointment, pain and a feeling of failure invaded her heart. She had lost a patient, and she could lose her apparently-not-boyfriend.
She knew she would get him to go surgery, but fuck, she had woken up thinking she’d have a normal day, and now she was forcing a guy who she thought was her boyfriend to get surgery to fix his bleeding, and she lost a homecoming soldier who is one of many.
She was determined to heal JB, but she knew it would probably hurt her really bad. Annabelle was so fragile. She was a rock, fissured from the inside. JB engulfed in the breaches so quick, she couldn’t stop him, and now she has to make sure he doesn’t abandon her.
When she went back in the soldier’s room, closing the curtain separating him from his subordinate’s cooling corpse, JB was looking straight in front of him, restrained by the impressive system around his head. It’s only when Annabelle leaned over that she saw his expression. His eyes were wide and teary, face looking like a terrified child’s. He had heard everything.
“Was that first class Wilson?” He asked, his voice quiet.
“Yes. I’m sorry.” Annabelle said, and a tear fell out of the captain’s eye. He sighed deeply, sniffling. “Black fever. He was a ticking bomb.” She said in a way of explanation. Jaebum closed his eyes. He was in deep pain.
“I’m going to prepare you for surgery. I’d rather not drug you first.” Annabelle declared, feeling like he was much more cooperative now he witnessed a life being wasted for no reason. JB looked at her with his teary eyes, and he looked like a lost puppy. The contrast was too big between the heartless jerk he was a second ago. It’s the first image of him that Annabelle remembers; harsh words and anger.
“I’ll do it.” He whispered.
“Okay." She murmured, relieved but without showing it. Instead, she circled his bed and grabbed a pre-op form. She clicked her pen and filled it without a word or glance in his direction.
"Belle.” JB called softly. The hairs on her forearms rose furiously. She bristled instantaneously. How dared he?
This nickname was reserved to their tender moments. It was when he’d call her before she went to sleep, when she was gorgy and couldn’t put two words together. When she moaned quietly between his words to pretend she was still awake and listening, when really she was three quarters asleep.
It was reserved to the moments he’d tell her about his day, about something that reminded him of her. It was surely not appropriate now he brushed off all those moments, labelling them as meaningless. She was ‘barely’ his girlfriend, after all.
“No.” She snapped, finally lifting her eyes to give him a wrathful glare. He was crawling back to her like a miserable animal. She hadn’t forgotten yet- everything he said was still imprinted in her mind, emotional wounds still bleeding.
“Sweet cheeks, I-” He tried, but she clicked her pen again and left the room. She wasn’t his sweet cheeks; she wasn’t Belle anymore. He had decided it.
She hid in the lockers room again. Sat on a bench and dropped her head in her hands. She closed her eyes and sighed, but didn’t cry this time. She was drained from everything. Her fear, anxiousness, physical and mental strength? All gone. Dead. She was a shell. Her eyes were glassy as she stared at the floor. She was off. Worn out.
Annabelle looked up and saw her friend Caleb tiptoeing his way into the room. He had a sad expression on his face. He wanted to hug her really bad.
“He’s looking for you.” He said, taking a few steps closer. She almost went ‘who?’.
That was just how out of it she was. Sometimes she did that on purpose, went out of her own head and kind of levitated over her body, watching but barely there. She regained her persona and blinked.
“Now that he’s scared and vulnerable.” She said bitterly. She was completely aware Jaebum’s words were words of anger and mostly fear, but they were just too loud and she wasn’t sure they were close enough for her to be his stress reliever word-punching bag thing.
“Listen,” Caleb said, crouching down in front of her. He placed his hands on her knees and looked up at her with his baby blues. He had a gorgeous face.
“You have all rights to be mad at him, but just…” He made a grimace, crinkling his nose. “not right now.”
Annabelle scoffed. 'Not right now’. That just had to be a joke.
“Annabelle, he is absolutely terrified.” Caleb argued. And she was hurt.
“If a man like him shows his fear, it means he’s shitting his pants. He won’t let us take him to the OR without talking to you.” Caleb explained.
“Put him to sleep.” She retorted, and Caleb sort of flinched. When he spoke, his voice was softer, but more serious.
“He’s a troop captain, he serves our country. I have too much respect to do that.” He said quietly.
“And I’m a bitch.” Annabelle scoffed.
“Yeah.” Caleb deadpanned. "And you have the right to be a bitch. After the surgery.“
Annabelle just looked away and shook her head, pulling that scowl Caleb hated. He lost part of his patience.
"Annie, come on, please. Let’s just get this over with. We’ll all deal with that later.” He pressed, tapping her thighs and rising. He took her hand and pulled her up.
“Come on.” He encouraged, dragging her behind him as she protested.
“We’ll do our best, captain Im.” Christine was saying when Annabelle got pushed inside the room. JB looked miserable. He was breathing heavily, painfully. He was placed under high debit oxygen because the freaking bleeding was probably compressing his lungs and heart, the pressure increasing at whatever speed and everything was delayed because Annabelle was hurt.
“I want to talk to Annabelle.” He begged, eyes clouded and almost closing. She slapped herself mentally, her feet moving from heavy and reluctant to forward and fast as she rushed to his side.
“Jaebum.” She breathed, horrified and angry at the same time. He looked up at her, his face contorting as he threatened to cry.
“Belle.” It was almost a sob. She took it hand and squeezed it hard.
“I’ll be there when you wake up.” She promised. She was not going to abandon him.
“I’m so sorry.” Jaebum rasped. He was so short of breath, he looked like he could have asthma.
“You need to relax, JB.” She cooed softly.
“I didn’t think what I said- I was- I’m scared.”
“I know.” She said. “I’ll still be there when this is over. You’ll be fine. But you have to go now.“
When Jaebum nodded, it was like everyone had been waiting for it. When he slightly inclined his head, Annabelle heard a click and they were pushing his bed forward, like they had been on their toes for years.
“I love you.” Jaebum whispered before she let his hand go. She barely heard it, but she did hear it. She was unable to respond, his words feeling like both a slap and a caress. Suddenly, she questioned everything she knew. Her mind started reeling. She stood there, alone in the empty trauma room. And he loved her.
She realized, then, that was not what she had signed up for this morning when she woke up. She never expected the past three hours to ever happen in her life, ever. And it was a lot.