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“This is ridiculous Carlos. We’re supposed to be partners. Is this what you meant when you said some honeymoon periods last longer than others?” Carlos rubbed his temples, feeling an oncoming headache building behind his eyes.

“I didn’t tell you about this shift because you were working too, and I didn’t think it mattered, I’m sorry,” apologised Carlos.

“I swapped the shift so I could surprise you, take you out to dinner, but I guess that’s out of the question now,” muttered TK.

“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t think, and that’s on me. I did double check the rosters with Judd when I took the shift, because you didn’t answer when I messaged you the other day about it,” added Carlos. The way TK’s eyes snapped up to him hurt, the anger behind them deep seated.

“So this is my fault? Forget it Carlos. Go to work,” said TK, resting his palms on the bench, breathing carefully through his nose to try and contain his rage.

“TK, I don’t want to leave angry, you know that. I’ll call in sick,” offered Carlos.

“So you can resent me for that? No thanks, just go,” grumbled TK. Carlos threw his hands up in the air, visibly frustrated.

“I don’t know what you want here TK. I’m trying, I really am. I’m sorry that’s not enough for you,” said Carlos sadly. He picked up his phone and wallet, and headed for the door before TK could even call out, apologise. He tapped his fingers on the counter, wishing he’d told Carlos what was really going on for him, taken him up on the offer of calling in sick so he could be there for TK. The job the previous night had rattled him, finding a drug house in Austin, several of the occupants overdosed, and TK felt a need in his veins that he thought he was strong enough to fight. Owen had benched him at the scene, leaving another officer with him so TK didn’t go inside, Owen himself looking sickened once EMS pronounced three of the occupants dead, and another two critical. He’d held TK for a long minute at the scene, holding him tight enough he could feel every beat of TK’s heart under his fingertips. TK now found himself needing someone to talk him down, to convince him this was a bad idea, that the need under his skin wasn’t right, that he was more than the drugs calling out to him. He flipped his phone over, unlocking the screen and tapping on Carlos’ details.

Hi, you’ve reached Carlos. I’m not available right now, please leave a message.” TK ended the call before the tone, scrubbing a hand over his face. He’d ring Judd, but he was still on shift, as was the rest of the 126, the shift he’d found a cover for so he could surprise Carlos. His fingers swiped through the apps, landing on the Uber app. He ordered a vehicle, hearing it pull up a few moments later. The driver was silent, barely a question on his lips as TK slid into the backseat, his leg jiggling nervously. A few moments later he found himself in front of a rundown looking bar.

“You sure you’re right?” asked the Uber driver, looking at the establishment with disdain.

“I’ll be fine. Thanks for the ride.” TK walked away from the Uber, already able to smell the alcohol in the air, the atmosphere inside stifling. He made his way to the bar, flagging the bar staff.

“A mineral water, slice of lemon please,” he requested politely, cells screaming that he should be ordering something laden with alcohol, not water.

“Sure thing doll. You sit there, I’ll grab that for you,” said the girl behind the bar. If TK played for the other team, he would have been flirting relentlessly with her. She slipped a coaster under the drink, sliding it to him, a napkin with her number on it carefully laid down next to the frosty glass.

“Anything else I can get you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes at him, leaning forward so he could get a better view at her breasts.

“Sorry. I’m not on your team,” he apologised, feeling awkward. She looked disappointed, but stood up to her full height, raising an eyebrow at him.

“No worries. Drink is on the house, enjoy.” She sauntered away, and TK looked at the drink, wishing it were something stronger, the urge to call her back and order something more to his taste. He swallowed half his water, feeling more out of place than ever, before setting his phone on the bar top, swiping to his contacts again. He tapped on Carlos’ details, letting it ring. After a few moments, the call was rejected, sent straight to voicemail, and TK sighed.

Hi, you’ve reached Carlos. I’m not available right now, please leave a message.” He swigged the last of his water, savouring the slightly bitter taste from the lemon, and nodded at the girl behind the bar when she glanced his way. She placed another glass in front of him a few moments later, waving away his attempts to pay for the drink.

“Don’t stress about it. You look like you need a little something tonight, sure you don’t want to order something stronger?” she offered.

“Can’t, but thanks anyway.” He stared blankly at his phone, willing it to ring, hoping Carlos would call him back. He felt drowsy, tired, exhausted from the fighting with Carlos. He couldn’t even remember what it was about anymore, but it seemed fairly insignificant. He lifted his glass with a shaky hand, spilling part of it down his front. “Oh, shoot.”

“Here hon, here’s a napkin. I’ll get you a new glass,” offered the bar tender. TK blotted up most of the fluid, dumping the used napkins on the bar as the girl gave him a fresh drink. He gulped down half of it, feeling parched and dry, before standing up on unsteady legs.

“Bathroom?” he asked, swallowing nervously. She pointed to the back of the bar, handing him his phone as he staggered to the bathrooms. He ducked into a stall, his stomach roiling, and heaved up what felt like shards of glass, his throat aching. He felt his pants tighten, and wondered how on earth he was feeling horny while vomiting in a bathroom. He wiped his mouth, flushing the toilet before pulling out his phone, using the wall to steady himself.

“What do you want TK?” asked Carlos.

“I… I think I messed up. Can you come get me?” asked TK, voice quiet and subdued. He pushed himself off the wall, exiting the bathrooms to make his way back to the bar. He sat down heavily on the stool, sipping the water again, hoping it would calm his unsettled stomach.

“TK? TK, are you listening?” TK glanced at the phone, forgotten in his hand, and pressed it to his ear.

“Carlos? What are you doing? I didn’t even hear the phone ring,” said TK, giggling a little.

“TK, you called me. Where are you?” asked Carlos patiently.

“Cut and Shoot. That bar, you know? We drove past it once,” said TK. He set the phone down on the counter, aroused by the sound of Carlos’ voice, wishing he were here to make him feel good, and giggling at that prospect, already knowing Carlos would be mad.

“You all good there?” asked the girl.

“I’m good, so good, I’m amazing,” said TK. She flashed him a smile, before getting into his space, lifting his chin so his eyes met hers.

“You’re so cute, you know that?” TK flushed at the compliment, and she leaned in, catching his lips in hers.

 

Wrong, wrong, wrong, this is all wrong!

 

He pulled away, confusion on his face. “I said I don’t play for your team,” said TK, perplexed.

“You can’t blame a girl for trying, y’know?” She handed TK another glass of mineral water, and he sculled it, before hearing someone clear their throat behind him. The girl took a step back, busying herself behind the bar.

“Carlos? When did you get here?” asked TK, grinning at his boyfriend, dressed in his full uniform, a raised eyebrow at TK.

 

God he looked hot in that uniform.  

 

“Apparently not soon enough. Did you want a ride home, or do you want a few more drinks first?” asked Carlos disapprovingly.

“I didn’t have any drinks, only water. I wanted to, but I didn’t,” said TK, words slurring a little.

“I can smell it on you Tyler. Come on, let’s get you home so you can sleep it off, and we can talk then,” replied Carlos. He helped TK to his feet, taking his phone from him, and supported him out to the cruiser. TK tried to lead him to the passenger side door, but Carlos dug in his heels.

“In the back please. If you’re going to throw up, at least do it there so I can clean it up,” said Carlos wearily. TK couldn’t understand why Carlos seemed upset, and allowed himself to be shoved into the back of the patrol. Carlos closed the door, walking around to the driver’s side door and sliding in. He started the vehicle, pulling away from the bar.

“Carlos? Are you mad?” asked TK, voice small. Carlos sighed, focusing on the drive back to his house.

“No TK, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. We can discuss this more when you’re sober,” said Carlos. He could hear TK’s uneven breathing from the backseat, and glanced in the rear view mirror at his boyfriend. He was trembling, sniffling, looking lost and confused.

“Officer Reyes to dispatch. I’ll be on this call a while longer, please divert all calls to Officer Williams at APD,” said Carlos into his radio, TK barely flinching at the sound.

“Copy that Reyes. Please let us know when you’re online again.” Carlos dropped his radio on the passenger seat, stopping at a set of traffic lights and twisting in his seat to look at TK.

“TK? Are you okay?” he asked. TK didn’t answer, looking blank, blinking slowly. “Tyler?” TK was still quiet, knees drawn to his chest while his body trembled, fine tremors quaking through him. Carlos could make out a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, the shallow breathing concerning. He made a snap decision, knowing that the 126 were still at the station, and heading there. His gut was telling him something was wrong, and he needed to get TK some help now. He pulled up, the station looking sleepy and slow, the crew resting between callouts. Carlos knocked on the door, and Judd answered it first.

“What’s up Carlos?” he asked, voice thick with sleep. Carlos pointed to TK in the backseat of the cruiser, and Judd grimaced. “Crap. I’ll wake the Captain.”

“No, I think you need to wake Tommy. I think something is wrong,” said Carlos quietly.

“Any ideas?”

“I found him at Cut and Shoot, kissing the bartender. I don’t know Judd, but something doesn’t add up,” replied Carlos.

“Alright, let me grab her, we’ll meet you in the dining area.” Carlos let the door close, and returned to the patrol car, opening the back door.

“Come on TK, we’re here,” said Carlos gently.

“I don’t remember you coming to get me,” admitted TK, voice sounding forlorn and almost scared. He stumbled out of the vehicle, grabbing Carlos’ hand tightly to steady himself, and Carlos noticed he was chilled through, despite the warm June air. He led TK inside, finding Tommy seated at the dining table, hands clasped in front of her and medi-kit on the floor, Owen hovering nearby, Judd an ever steady presence.

“Hey TK. Carlos said you weren’t feeling well. Can you tell me what you’re feeling?” asked Tommy gently.

“I’m cold. I don’t… don’t know how I got here,” answered TK, almost breathless.

“Do you remember what you were doing tonight?” Owen asked, leaning against the counter and sipping a coffee. Carlos could see the fear in his eyes.

“I… I went to a bar,” replied TK, brow furrowed in confusion.

“Did anything happen TK? Do you remember anything unusual?” added Tommy. She pulled a blood pressure cuff out of her bag, slow and methodical in her movements so she didn’t spook TK. He allowed himself to be handled, looking from his Dad to Carlos, confused and lost. “BP is low, looks like temp is low as well, and I’m willing to bet a week of pay that his heart rate is low as well. Looks like someone might have drugged him or he’s taken something, but I can’t say with certainty. We should get him to the hospital,” decided Tommy. Owen sighed, setting his mug down on the counter.

“I’ll go wake Gillian and Harper, they can assist.” Carlos could hear the frustration in Owen’s voice, and didn’t blame him, but something else was niggling in the back of his mind. He didn’t get to voice his opinion though, as TK toppled off the chair, hitting the floor and seizing violently.

“Shit! Carlos, support him on his side, keep him in recovery. Judd, grab me some O2, and hustle Nancy and Jack please?” asked Tommy calmly. Judd disappeared from the room, returning moments later with an oxygen therapy kit, placing it on the floor before heading up the stairs, his long legs taking them two at a time. He returned moments later, Nancy and Jack behind him, Owen bringing up the rear.

“Still seizing, it’s been two minutes now. Jack, grab the gurney please, Nancy, I need vitals now!” Carlos watched as TK’s body thrashed around the floor.

“He’s aspirating, suctioning,” called Nancy. After a brief moment, TK stopped seizing, his whole body going lax. Tommy felt for a pulse, then pushed him flat to the floor, hands clasped one over the other, looking around wildly for her team.

“Heart’s stopped, starting compressions!”

“Come on TK, you gotta breathe brother!”

“Don’t do this to me TK, not again!”

 

Carlos felt his own heart stop.

 


 

Never seen Mona Lisa up close, but I've seen perfection under your clothes

 

Carlos would give the world for TK, his perfect sculpted body, his kind soul, laughing eyes, the way the whole world lit up, the absolute perfection that Carlos appreciated every day, the world stopping every time TK smiled at him.  

 

Yeah, we fell in love and we built a home, though we may never see the streets of Rome

 

They’d moved in together a week ago, finally feeling like the puzzle pieces fit, that they were a home, a safe space for each other of love and support, tender kisses, caring glances and home cooked meals.

 

And I hope it's okay, 'cause the unknown is on its way

 

Carlos swore to make sure TK was safe, no matter what happened, because without him the world stopped spinning, became a little dull, less colour, vibrancy fading away without him.

 

If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be, you know I'm not afraid as long as you're next to me

 

Carlos hoped he never had to hear these words again, the flurry of panic as TK’s heart ceased it’s pattern, leaving Carlos feeling like his own heart was falling out of his chest, the panic threatening to overwhelm him.

 

So tell me, will you hold me when the curtains close? If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be

 

This couldn’t be it, their last conversation an argument over a simple miscommunication in plans, a raised eyebrow at a kiss from a bartender, a cry for help when even TK knew something was wrong.

 

Yeah we may never sleep under Northern Lights, but I've seen the stars flicker in your eyes

 

He could see stars in his own eyes, the panic as TK’s lips started to turn blue, Gillian inserting a breathing tube to assist him, TK no longer breathing on his own, Judd holding him back as the emotions drowned him.

 

And I hope it's okay, ‘cause the unknown is on its way

 

He couldn’t fight this on his own. TK made him feel whole, complete, right, despite every argument they’d ever had.

 

If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be

 

He should be holding TK right now, should have stayed home from shift, made sure he was okay; he’d had months of experience reading TK’s moods, and tonight should have been a glaring neon sign that something was not right.

 

You know I'm not afraid as long as you're next to me

 

Carlos was terrified, TK still not breathing on his own, Jack, Nancy and Tommy working out how best to treat the unknown, watching as his chest moved artificially, Jack bagging him expertly.

 

So tell me, will you hold me when the curtains close? If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be

 

This was not right. This shouldn’t be happening to TK of all people, the one person who deserved the best the world had to give, TK who was trying to be better, who was better.

 

Lay me down in the ground by my hometown, boy

 

He could hear the blood pounding in his ears, watching as the EMS team loaded TK onto the gurney, into the ambulance, his body unnaturally still and pale.

 

We, we never leave, but it feels like we've seen the whole world

 

This couldn’t be it.

 

A thousand cheers when the tears on your parents' roof

 

He had so many more memories to create with TK, to spend so much more time with him, to show him all the love and kindness and care he had to give.

 

Forget my fears every time that I'm under you

 

To show TK every bit of himself, every scar, every wound, every piece of his soul, because he wanted to show TK everything.

 

All along, all I needed was you

 

All he needed was for TK to wake up. To be okay.

 

So I swear, I'm not scared when it's over

 

The hospital was loud, doctors shouting orders, commands, instructions, TK’s body manhandled so they could take blood.

 

If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be

 

His heart stopped again, doctors and nurses working furiously to make sure he stayed alive. Carlos could hear himself begging TK to just breathe, to stay alive.  

 

You know I'm not afraid as long as you're next to me, so tell me, will you hold me when the curtains close?

 

A sigh of relief flooded through the resuscitation team, a heart rate showing on the monitor, TK breathing on his own.

 

If I died in your arms, that's right where I'm supposed to be

 


 

“Officer Reyes? You requested those blood results when we had them available, correct?” Carlos nodded, and the nurse handed him the file. Carlos scanned through the results, noting the blood alcohol level was a zero, before his jaw dropped at one of the lines. He looked up at the nurse, her eyes confirming what he’d read.

“How much GHB?”

“He should have died. The only thing that probably saved him in all honesty is the fact that he has a past history of drug use, and his body tried to metabolise what it could to try and save itself. We have him on activated charcoal now, and we’re trying to clear the excess from his system. You’re lucky you brought him in when you did, otherwise this would have been a very different situation,” replied the nurse. Carlos felt his own heart sink, and he closed the file, taking a deep breath.

“You okay kid?” asked Owen, appearing in the doorway of the waiting room. He handed Carlos a cup of coffee, which Carlos accepted gratefully.

“He could have died. Again,” said Carlos. He took a sip of the bitter brew, feeling the warmth flood through him, waking him up a little.

“He could have, but he didn’t. We got him back, got him the help he needed. None of this is your fault. I’m just glad you answered the phone when you did, otherwise this could have ended up much worse than it did,” said Owen, glancing at the floor over his own coffee cup.

“We had a fight,” admitted Carlos.

“Mmm?”

“He wanted to surprise me with dinner, and last I’d checked he was rostered on, so I picked up an extra shift. I didn’t know what he was planning, and he was upset that I’d taken on the extra without talking to him, and I should have spoken to him, but I’m really not understanding what was going through his head or why he was so angry,” replied Carlos.

“Did he tell you about our last call of the shift?” asked Owen.

“He didn’t tell me anything, just told me to leave and go to work,” answered Carlos.

“The last call I benched him for nearly the entire call. We were at a known drug house, and three of the people inside had overdosed. He was shaking by the time we’d finished, and I didn’t even let him inside the building,” explained Owen.

“And he wasn’t angry that I took the shift. He was trying to tell me in his own stupid way that he needed me there because he didn’t know how to ask,” replied Carlos, realisation dawning on him. Owen nodded, taking a sip of his own coffee.

“TK… TK has never been good with words. Or explaining himself when he needs help. He’ll tell you he loves you, will tell you when what you’ve cooked for dinner sucks, but when it comes to admitting he needs help, he’s never been good at it. This first time he overdosed was terrifying Carlos, and I had no idea he was struggling, or what happened, because he never told me, but the first thing he did was hold me close, let me in, and tell me he was sorry. This was accidental this time. I don’t think he went out of his way to overdose on GHB Carlos, and he’s probably going to feel pretty miserable. We’ll just need to be here for him,” added Owen.

“I’m not planning on going anywhere. I do love TK, as confusing as this evening really was. He’s my life Owen, and I don’t know what I’d do without him,” said Carlos quietly. Owen placed a gentle hand on Carlos’ knee, giving him a quick squeeze as a nurse popped her head in.

“He’s awake.” Carlos had popped out of his seat seconds later, following the nurse through the room. TK was pale and sweaty on the bed, still feeling unwell.

“Carlos, I’m sorry,” whimpered TK. Carlos felt himself come undone, and crossed the room to pull TK close, allowing him to cry on his shoulder, feeling his heartbeat with his own fingertips, reassurances that TK was actually alive and breathing.

“It’s okay baby, it’s okay, I love you.” After a few moments TK relaxed, and Carlos helped him back against the bed. “Your dad told me what happened at the callout. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you tonight, I didn’t understand why you wanted me to stay home, but I get it now. I… I just wish you’d told me,” admitted Carlos.

“Or me son, I’m always here for you, no matter what,” added Owen.

“I didn’t do it on purpose. I went to the bar, was thinking about having a drink, and then instead just ordered a mineral water. I wanted to use, I wanted to drink, I wanted to do something crazy, and then all I could think about is how disappointed you and Dad would be if I did that, how devastated I would be, so when I opened my mouth, I ordered a mineral water. The girl behind the bar, she just kept giving them to me for free. She gave me her number,” said TK, remembering the napkin given to him with the first glass.

“I wouldn’t mind betting she was the one that drugged you TK. When I walked in, she was kissing you, and basically sucking your face,” replied Carlos. TK blushed, and Carlos smiled at him.

“I promise, there was zero interest,” said TK, smiling back at Carlos. Carlos took his hand, kissing his knuckles.

“It’s okay TK, I get it, it’s fine. I’ve already got officers out there canvassing the bar, we’ve had a few other reports of a similar thing happening to other people, so we’re investigating. I’m so sorry this happened to you TK, but I’m so glad you’re alive,” said Carlos warmly. TK clutched his hand tight, looking at Carlos, eyes bright.

“I love you Carlos. Thank you for saving me.”