When We Collide

an excerpt

Chapter 1

When a crash of thunder woke Drew Hayden, he sleepily reached for his husband, Chris Kearney. His hand met emptiness. Drew heaved a tired sigh and sat up. It wasn't unusual for his trauma surgeon husband to have trouble sleeping. The man was a high-strung adrenaline junkie who had a lot of difficulty with the concept of unwinding even hours after his shift.

A flash of lightning lit the bedroom just enough for Drew to make out that Chris was standing by the window, head against the frame, looking outside. Drew slid out of bed and padded across the carpeted floor to stand behind Chris. "Did the storm wake you up?"

"No, I was just staring at the ceiling anyway."

"You coulda poked me and let me know. I'm pretty good at relaxing you." Drew curled an arm around Chris's waist and set his chin on Chris's shoulder.

Chris petted Drew's arm, aimless little circles on his forearm and the back of Drew's hand. "You should go back to bed. I'll go downstairs and watch TV or something."

There was something in the tone of Chris's low murmur that made Drew suspect Chris was preoccupied. "This is about my upcoming assignment isn't it?"

"No, it's fine. I know what you do and it's not like you aren't periodically gone anyway."

That was a pathetic denial if Drew ever heard one. "But most of the ops are three days or less. This one is going to be a month or more, if everything goes according to plan."

"I'm a grown up. I think I can manage." There was a little bit of an edge in Chris's words.

"Coming home to an empty house night after night is hard." Drew spun Chris around gently and kissed him. "I'll miss you."

"I wish there was some way I could call you or text you or...something."

"I'll talk to command about it but babe, it'd be risky. The gang we're trying to take down is a paranoid bunch of fuckers. Jesse and I have been working on a deal with them for a couple of months now."

"Great, you're making me feel so much better about this."

Drew chuckled a little. "Sorry." He pinned Chris lightly against the wall with his body weight. "We have a plan, and plenty of back up." He traced his thumb across the fullness of Chris's lower lip. "Try not to worry. When this is done we'll take a couple of days off and go on vacation somewhere. I know you. You'll bury yourself in work 'til you're about to come unglued. You'll need some downtime."

"You are such a bastard." Chris tilted his head sideways and closed his teeth on Drew's thumb. He sucked on it, teasing the pad with his tongue.

Outside, the storm continued to rage; and rain lashed the window glass.

"Mmm, sounds like we're getting half our yearly rainfall in one go. I can't even hardly remember the last full on thunder storm," said Drew. "Oh Jesus, I have something else you could stick in your mouth too." The hot wet suction of Chris's mouth was sending suggestions a lot lower.

"Oh really? Maybe you could elaborate," Chris teased.

Drew took Chris's hand and guided it down between their bodies. "How 'bout this?" Drew pressed Chris's hand against his prick.

"Is that your gun? It's really hard." Chris bit his lip, obviously trying not to break out into laughter.

"Maybe you should taste it and find out."

Chris slowly dropped to his knees and licked the tip of Drew's cock. Oh Lord, that felt good. One long lick up the underside and then Chris began to suck.

"Chris... nyuh..." Drew muttered. He put a hand on Chris's head, not gripping. The other hand he braced on the wall.

After a few moments, Chris stopped.

"Getting rug burn on your knees?" Drew asked.

"No, I just have a better idea. Go lay down."

"Uh, okay." Drew went back to the bed and stretched out on his back. Chris straddled him and then reached for the bottle of lube on the night stand. Oh. "Wasn't sure you were in the mood to go this far."

"Love you," murmured Chris, as he kissed Drew. One good slather of lube on Drew's dick and Chris lined himself up, a knee on either side of Drew's body. Then he sank down slowly.

Drew moaned. This was always good, and unanticipated pleasure was even better.

A low sound from Chris indicated he was getting as much out of this as Drew.

Raising up a bit then lowering again, Chris sank further onto Drew's cock. The next few motions were slow and the snug heat of his husband's body ramped up Drew's arousal to near the tipping point. He petted Chris's cock, where it jutted out against his belly. The speed of the motion increased until it hit that frenzy level of near explosion. Drew unloaded inside Chris at just about the same time Chris came in thick spurts up Drew's torso. Spent, Chris was still, head bowed, breathing hard.

Drew pulled him down into a kiss. "We could stand out in the rain to clean up."

"Oh, hell no. I bet it's cold." Chris nipped at Drew's chin. He eased off and stretched out beside Drew.

"Then I guess you'll have to settle for a warm wash cloth," Drew teased.

****

One cup of coffee just wasn't going to cut it. Chris sat at the kitchen counter, both hands curled around his cup. Sleep had been elusive last night, and while three a.m. sex was pleasurable, more sleep would have been practical.

He glanced across the kitchen where Drew was frying eggs and thought about Drew's impending absence. As a member of the San Diego Police Department's gang taskforce, Drew often spent several days at a time undercover with his partner Jesse Hernandez. It was a dangerous job and Drew had been seriously injured a couple of years ago. Chris ran his hand back through his short hair and tried not to think too hard about that memory. This new project that Drew and Jesse were involved in was supposedly more complicated than average and therefore the risk level was even higher than usual. It wasn't like Drew could tell him more than sketchy information, then again maybe it was better that Chris didn't know too many details because likely as not he would obsess over them.

"You look like you're running on fumes babe," said Drew, sliding a couple of fried eggs out of the pan onto a plate.

"I don't have to be at work until noon. I'll get it together by then."

"It's seven thirty. You have time to go back to sleep for a couple more hours."

"Maybe..."

Drew came around the counter to stand beside him. He cupped his hands around Chris's face. "Take. A. Nap." Each word was punctuated by Drew tapping Chris on the nose with one finger.

"I'll try," Chris promised weakly.

When Drew finished eating breakfast, he gave Chris a kiss. "If I'm asleep when you get home, it's okay to wake me."

Chris was swapping some hours to cover for a colleague's absence. He'd be at work from noon to midnight instead of the six am to six pm version he'd pulled the past month. God, flip-flopping his schedule by that many hours really sucked unless he had a couple days to adjust in between. Tonight, it would be the wee hours when he got home. There was something comfortable and comforting about being married and knowing he could crawl into bed with Drew in the middle of the night if he wanted. Not that he usually unwound fast enough from work to go straight to sleep, but Drew wouldn't mind if he just cuddled for a while, then got up again.

****

"So did the warrants ever come through for the houses over in Imperial Beach?" Drew asked as he sat down at his desk in the gang taskforce office. His partner, Jesse, was in the cubicle behind him. The heavyset Hispanic officer was one of Drew's closest friends, and Drew trusted the man with his life.

"Yeah, we're in luck." Jesse swiveled his chair around to look at Drew. "You're late."

"I know. After last night's rain, there was an epic five car accident. I had to take a detour to get around it."

"Briefing's in five minutes. Get your shit in gear."

The task force gathered in a large conference room and Captain Burgos stood at the front. "We have warrants for three houses in the Imperial Beach area. All of them have documented surveillance of drug buys and one of the owners of record also has a history of weapons dealing. Most of you have been involved in the collection of evidence supporting the warrants. Hayden and Hernandez have been seen by some of the parties we are seeking to arrest. You two will be back here dealing with paperwork for this op, especially since you both are slated for the project that starts in two weeks."

Drew and Jesse exchanged a glance. Neither was wildly thrilled by the prospect of desk duty but acknowledged the wisdom of the assignment today.

It took another half hour to finish the briefing. Most of the team headed out the door to conduct a time coordinated set of raids on the designated locations. Drew and Jesse went back to their desks to work on the briefs that would be presented to the district attorney's office once the suspects were in custody. Detective Tuan Nguyen tagged along. He was the newest member of the task force and still learning the ropes. He went by the nickname of "Tee."

"I'm vaguely surprised Burgos didn't grab you as extra back up," Drew said to Tee.

"I got the impression he wants to keep a new face in reserve in case the team needs someone who can't be recognized as a cop," Tee replied.

"You might be right. Jesse and I have maybe six to nine months of good safe time left in undercover, then we'll probably rotate to homicide. You may be stepping into our shoes." Drew flopped down into his desk chair and pulled a folder from the stack.

"And my shoes are very big," Jesse teased. "Do you have very big feet?"

"I'll plant my very big foot against your wide ass," Tee responded and threw a ball of paper at Jesse.

Drew chuckled.

"Do you have very big feet too?" Tee turned his head toward Drew.

"Oh, his husband certainly thinks so," Jesse said.

Tee raised an eyebrow.

Drew tensed a little. He had figured Tee had heard the information about the "gay guy on the task force" before...but maybe not. "What Chris and I get up to behind closed doors in none of your business," Drew said as casually as he could manage.

"You're married?" Tee asked.

"A little less than a year," Drew replied.

"How does he deal with you being away and unreachable sometimes?" Tee said.

Drew relaxed slightly. "It's a stressor. He thinks he's downplaying it by not talking about it much, but it shows in his face. He makes a bad poker player."

"My last girlfriend ditched me after I had to cancel three separate dates due to work. I never used to understand why cops have suck ass divorce rates. I mean she knew I was a cop from day one," Tee sat on the edge of Drew's desk.

"Sorry man, that's rough," Jesse commiserated.

"I met Chris on a case. The first few months were awful crazy trying to match my schedule to his at least once a week."

"Obviously you two figured it out eventually," Tee said.

"Yeah, it wasn't easy," replied Drew.

"And getting stabbed in the gut and ending up in Chris's OR wasn't part of the plan either," added Jesse.

"So your husband's a doctor?" Tee asked.

"Trauma surgeon."

"Wow." Tee looked impressed.

"Here, look through this file and find the transcription of the audio surveillance. This is one of the guys the team is hoping to grab today," Drew said, handing Tee a folder.

An hour into the paperwork slog, Jesse pushed his chair back from the desk., "I'm hungry. I'm going down to the canteen and grab some food. You two want anything?"

"No, I'm good," answered Drew.

Tee said, "Can you grab me a Mountain Dew?"

"Sure," Jesse as he walked out the door.

Drew began filling out forms to document visual surveillance when he heard someone coming into the room. He looked up to see a young uniformed officer escorting a Hispanic male wearing gang colors.

"Whoa! Whoa! Where the hell are you taking him?" Drew yelled.

"I was told to bring him from booking to see someone from the assistant D.A.'s satellite office."

"Which is not here! This is the Gang Task Force office. No one is allowed here but cops with authorization. Take him to the fourth floor opposite end of the building," ordered Drew.

"Sorry, I'm new," muttered the uniformed cop, as he shepherded the other man back out of the office.

"That was weird," commented Tee.

"Dangerous too," said Drew. The last thing he needed was to be recognized as cop in the middle of some project.

****

It was probably a good thing that the shift was starting off slowly. Chris was still tired from the inadequate amount of sleep last night. He'd managed to catch one more hour after Drew had left for work; it had helped but it wasn't really enough to make him feel truly alert. This felt too damn reminiscent of being an intern and going forty-eight hours on about two hours sleep. Well, maybe it wasn't quite as bad as that. First thing on the agenda, he needed to check on the records of a patient he'd taken to surgery yesterday. Grabbing a computer tablet from the station in the middle of the ER, he walked into the lounge. The next item on the agenda was getting himself a cup of coffee.

He had just sat down and begun to read when he saw Delilah beckoning him from the doorway of the lounge. "Is there a problem?" Delilah was one of his best friends, the first work colleague he'd told he was gay. She had been the only one to know until he'd gotten involved with Drew.

"We are packed, racked and stacked and there's an ambulance inbound with what sounds like a fairly serious case. Some guy got stepped on by a horse. Can you go meet the ambulance and deal with them until Zack can get free?"

"Yeah sure. I was just checking on some test results." Chris closed the computer file and followed Delilah out the door. He left the tablet back on the counter of the station and grabbed gloves and a pair of safety goggles on his way toward the ambulance entrance. In a few minutes, the ambulance pulled up. About thirty seconds after the ambulance had parked, a paramedic climbed out of the back. Chris recognized him as Ryan Lasakow, one of the EMS people that Chris saw at least three or four times a week. The next out of the ambulance was a man in a full chain mail shirt, tabard and boots with a broadsword at his hip. His coif was pushed back and hung down over his shoulders.

Chris stood with his mouth hanging open, dumbfounded as Ryan and Pam, the other EMT, pulled the stretcher out of the back. It held another knight similarly dressed, strapped to a back board. Chris waved them inside in the direction of one of the trauma bays.

"Was a movie being filmed?" asked Chris. It was the only explanation that came to mind.

"We're part of a medieval recreation group," the "knight" explained. "Fred and a couple other guys were doing a mock joust. Somebody in the crowd threw something and the horse reared and ditched him. He hit pretty damn hard and didn't manage to roll out of the way before the horse came down."

Ryan took over. "He's been in and out of consciousness, so there's probably a head injury involved. GCS of about ten. BP- eighty over fifty-five five minutes ago. It was better at the scene. Respirations are thirty-two and shallow."

"Sounds like there might be internal bleeding. Somebody grab the ultrasound," Chris called over his shoulder. "Get x-ray in here too. What'd you say his name was?"

"Fred," answered the "knight."

Fred? Chris's brain kinked a little. Shouldn't the guy be named Gwaine or Ivanhoe? The back board was dragged across onto the gurney. Chris patted the man on the cheek. "Fred. Fred, open your eyes for me. You're in the hospital."

There was a sluggish moan from the man. Chris flicked a penlight across the man's pupils. They were more responsive than he'd hoped. A CT was still going to be necessary.

"We have a problem," said Katie, one of the nurses. She had pulled off the boots and cut the man's leggings up the side, but had halted when she got to the chain mail shirt. "I can't cut this."

"Uh..." This was a first for Chris. "Call maintenance and see if you can get a pair of bolt cutters up here stat." The upper half of the man's body was still strapped to the backboard. Chris undid one on the straps near the man's waist and lifted the chain mail shirt as high as he could get it. The stuff was freaking heavy. It could take hours to cut through enough metal rings to get it off that way. "Change of plans. We are going to lift his arms straight over his head and see if we can slide the chain mail off him slow and easy."

The pulse-oximeter on Fred's finger made a hiccupy sound as his heart rhythm wavered.

"We need to do this now," ordered Chris. "I don't think chain mail and defibrillators go together. Ryan, I need a hand." It was apt to take some muscle power to safely lift the patient and manage to get the metal shirt off.

"We're going to have to take off the backboards straps to do this," said Ryan.

"Yeah, I know. I'm not thrilled. Katie, you reach up under the chain mail, and make sure the C-collar doesn't shift while I take off the blocks." Chris pointed at the two vinyl covered blocks that were Velcroed to the backboard insuring no head movement occurred. Then he started undoing the straps near the man's head. Ryan removed the ones around the man's chest.

Ryan said, "You take left side, I'll take right?"

"Okay," replied Chris. The two of them eased the man's arms straight up, lifted him a few inches and managed to drag the heavy mail shirt up and off. It was promptly dumped onto the floor with a ringing thud then the patient's head and shoulders were gently returned to the flat surface of the backboard. "Next step, we're going to roll him and get the back board out." Ryan, Katie and Pam helped Chris get the man off the board, then Pam left to take it back to the ambulance.

"Hand me a stethoscope and grab some EKG leads," Chris said to Katie. He took the stethoscope from her and listened to the man's chest. "His heart's sounds are muffled, and his jugular has some distension. I think we have a cardiac tamponade going on."

Chris grabbed the wheeled cart with the ultrasound and applied gel to the wand. He used the device to get an image of the heart. "Grab me a pericardiocentesis kit." Katie handed him the syringe and needle from the kit. "Ryan, hold the probe for me. I don't want to lose sight of the pericardium." He slowly inserted the large needle to the left of the sternum and advanced it until the ultrasound showed that he was right through the edge of the sac around the heart. He withdrew about sixty cc's of blood then listened again with the stethoscope while he watched the ultrasound.

"Did it work?" Ryan asked.

"Enough that his heart is beating closer to normal now. Katie, we need to order a full set of X-rays, skull, chest and spine and a CT of the head. He's not out of the woods yet. He'll probably need surgery. I think I see a small tear near the mitral valve but ultrasound is not good enough imaging to tell for sure. I'm going to need to send him to the cath lab if we've got time." Chris stripped off his gloves and went to the computer cart.

"His buddy is undoubtedly waiting for word." Ryan said. "You want me to tell him Fred is still hanging on?"

"If you like. I'll be out to talk to him in about five minutes." Chris turned to look at Ryan. "Thanks for the extra hands. This has been a weird one."

Ryan gave him a grin. "No problem. You'll have a tale to tell your husband later."