“Excuse me-,” Carina said, pivoting to the side to narrowly avoid another train goer who was tearing their way through the station. She thought, albeit briefly, that she might have heard a grumble from behind the stranger’s mask in response to her accent, but she wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t the first time today that she had gotten that reaction. She couldn’t help but mutter her own response under her breath as she continued in the direction that Andrew had just disappeared. “ Rude .”
As Carina took a few steps further, another man slipped into her path, but she couldn’t get out of his way in time. He slammed into her, catching her off guard and knocking the wind out of her, before continuing on his way as though nothing had happened.
“Watch where-,” she tried, frustrated at the lack of acknowledgement or apology from the man, but she struggled to continue - left only with the harsh pounding of her heart in her chest and a breathlessness that she couldn’t shake off.
Carina slowed, coming to a halt as a cold chill slipped down her spine. It wasn’t like the anxiety that she had been feeling for her brother before, or the adrenaline as they darted down stairs and between train carriages. It was different. Each breath that the brunette sucked in was becoming harder to take, as though something was stopping her lungs from filling up more than half way. She pushed herself on, making a beeline to the closest wall for something to lean on and gather herself. She made it a few feet before she tumbled down onto her knees, and then her side, as her fingers grazed the plastic leaves of a decorative plant.
What is happening-? , was the only coherent thought in Carina’s mind as her forehead came to rest against the cool tiles below her.
She managed to roll onto her back, making it a little easier to breathe as her eyes fixed themselves onto the ceiling. The brunette’s hand patted down to her abdomen, trying to find the source of a sharp pain that was staring to bloom beneath her coat. She pulled her hand back again, waving it over her face in disbelief when her eyes were met with red.
What did he do? Was it that man?
Her mask wasn’t making it any easier for her to breathe but she couldn’t find the strength to pull it down, her limbs working against her as they grew heavy. As though weights were pulling them down to the ground. Carina opened her mouth, a swear word on the tip of her tongue, but it wouldn’t come out, only a groan as the pain grew more intense. Her eyes darted around the space for something, anything, that could help.
On the other side of the station, Andrew couldn’t help the smug smile that fell across his face as he watched his target be loaded into a police car. The sight of the handcuffs that were tightly secured around her wrists were an added bonus, nobody on her side to bail her out. It was everything that he had hoped for. Everything that he had been trying to achieve since he had gotten inside of his sister’s car - since the day that he had tried to raise the alarm the first time, though nobody had believed him.
Andrew couldn’t help but feel proud of himself. And grateful for Carina for seeing it through with him. He had known in his gut all along despite what everyone else had tried to tell him.
They would believe him now.
As Andrew turned away from the police, the first thing that his eyes met were those of Carina’s girlfriend. He was still smiling as he opened his mouth to greet her. “Carina is just coming. She was a little behind me.”
Maya shook her head at the sight of him. As she came closer, she didn’t hesitate to thump him hard on the shoulder. She knew that Carina would forgive her for it - maybe even berate her for not hitting him harder. The blonde pointed a finger at him, giving him a look that conveyed every inch of the authoritative Captain that she was, as well as a healthy dose of the sister-in-law that she was too.
“You can’t do that to me again. Do you realise how worried I was?”
“You do realise that I just caught a human trafficker?” Andrew quipped back. “I think that you can let me away with it this one time.”
She tilted her head to the side, trying to contain her own smile as his turned to a smirk. It was hard to be mad at him. Especially considering what he had done and how many people he might just have saved because of it. “You’re lucky that you’re Carina’s brother, y’know that?”
“I’m feeling pretty lucky these days,” he replied, bumping their shoulders together as they turned back in the direction of the station - both peering through the doors in search of Carina. “Nice tie, by the way.”
“Shut up,” Maya snorted. “I know things about you, Andrea . And just because you’re some big hero doesn’t mean that I won’t use them in embarrassing ways if you ever pull something as crazy as this again.”
He raised his hands in defeat, happy to accept it considering the pride that was still fizzing in his chest. The smile slowly slipped from his face though as he continued to look through the doors, waiting for some sign of his sister, but all he could see was unfamiliar people walking in every direction.
“We should go find her.”
Maya nodded, a niggle of worry at the back of her own mind. “Sure. You said she was right behind you?”
“She was. She should be out by now though,” Andrew nodded as he pushed the door open. “She wasn’t far.”
Maya turned to Ben and Jack, motioning for the men to follow too as her worry grew. As she followed Andrew, stepping into the station, the pair was immediately met by a shout on the other side of the space. The blonde’s heart plummeted. As Andrew started to run in the direction of the noise, Maya did too, making it to a growing crowd of people before he could. Maya couldn’t explain it but she knew instantly that it was Carina, her gut telling her that something was wrong. As she pushed through the commotion, a figure on the ground coming into view between a handful of bystanders, Maya’s worst fears were realised.
“ Carina -!”
When Carina finally saw Maya’s face hovering above her own, she half thought that she was in heaven. Or at least dreaming. The outer edges of her vision were hazy and there was little sound meeting her ears beside the pumping of her own heart. Maya’s face was as clear as day though, filling her chest with a feeling of relief that only the blonde’s presence gave her - even despite the pain that was attacking her senses.
“ Maya .”
“No,” Maya frowned as she pulled up the front of Carina’s sweater, her hands finding their way to the stained skin of the brunette’s stomach. She put as much pressure as she could on Carina’s stomach, trying to ignore the groan of pain that escaped past the Italian’s lips at the motion. “Carina, talk to me-.”
The pressure brought a fresh wave of tears to Carina’s eyes and Maya’s face crumpled. She tried to open her mouth to speak but nothing could find its way out. She sucked in a sore breath. “May-ah, merda .”
Andrew’s hands pressed his palm on top of Maya’s, his eyes serious and he motioned for her to let go. She brought her hands back as soon as she was content that Andrew had it covered. She slid further up to give her colleagues room to work as they drew closer with a gurney, keeping their eyes locked together as she offered Carina the most comforting look that she could manage.
“You’re okay, Carina,” Maya implored her as she pulled down her mask. “You’re going to be okay.”
Carina’s head rolled to the side as she sucked in another shuddering breath. “I think I was stabbed.”
Maya brought one hand to Carina’s cheek, the other gently pushing back her hair as she murmured affirmations to the brunette. She kept one eye on the treatment she was being given, watching as fresh white gauze was pressed against her tanned skin to stem the bleeding.
“We have to go,” Jack said firmly.
Maya nodded, helping as they started to move Carina onto the lowered gurney.
“ Maya ,” Carina tried, a newfound panic taking over her as the pain became more prominent and the reality of the situation began to sink in.
What if she didn’t make it?
Maya shook her head. She could see the fear flicker across the brunette’s eyes as she spoke, but she wasn’t going to humour her worries for a moment. Carina was going to be fine.
“No,” Maya replied firmly, looking deep into the Italian’s eyes. “You’re going to be absolutely fine. It’s going to be okay.”
“Okay,” Carina murmured. She trusted the blonde with her life. She nodded as best she could. “Okay.”
Maya followed closely as Carina was lifted onto a gurney, an oxygen mask fixed firmly over her face in the place of the fabric mask that had been there before. She didn’t let go of the brunette’s hand for even a moment as she was pushed through the station out to the aid car, only letting go as she was lifted up. Maya took her place on the seat by Carina’s left, Andrew sliding in beside her with Ben while Jack took his place in the driver’s seat.
As the aid car started to move, Maya combed her fingers comfortingly through Carina’s hair as her sweater was cut into, giving Ben more room to work. She turned to Andrew after a moment, a thought spinning into her head. “We have to let them know that we’re coming.”
Andrew nodded dutifully, reaching for the radio while keeping one careful eye on Carina. “This is Doctor Andrew DeLuca. We’re on our way in with another doctor-.” He cut himself off sharply, correctly himself before he could go any further. He knew that it wasn’t information that needed to be given quite yet. The knowledge would spread like wildfire around the hospital. “We’re on our way in on Station 19’s aid car. I have a thirty-eight year old female with an abdominal stab wound. She’s tachycardic and hypotensive.”
Maya reached for Carina’s hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing gently. She pressed a gentle kiss against the brunette’s knuckles. “We’re almost there.”
“DeLuca,” Owen said firmly, barely looking over to the younger doctor as he pressed his hands against Carina’s torso. “I’m not going to tell you again. If I do, you’re out of here.”
Maya pressed a firm hand against Andrew’s chest as he attempted to take another step forward, pushing him back against the wall behind him and giving him a look that quieted him immediately. The blonde’s tone was just as sharp as Owen’s as she responded to his protestations. “Andrew, stop. Let them work.”
The blonde swallowed harshly, taking a second to compose herself as she felt her own back met the wall. She could feel herself slipping back into first responder mode as she watched the doctors in front of her work, the freedom that she had allowed herself to simply be a bystander supporting her girlfriend in the aid car was quickly wearing off. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Maya could feel a steady, familiar panic rising in her chest, her heart rate rising with it and a cold sweat chilling her back. She knew that the only way she could get through the next couple of minutes for Carina was to compartmentalise her feelings - to keep her eyes forward and push back the panic. She took a deep breath to settle the lingering nerves that were swirling in her stomach, unwilling to let them completely take over while her girlfriend lay on the gurney in front of her.
“There’s fluid in her abdomen,” Owen commented as he looked to the monitor to his left, moving the ultrasound wand slickly over Carina’s bare stomach with an expression that did little to fill Maya or Andrew with confidence. The blonde’s head dropped, her eyes meeting the linoleum floor as the doctor continued. “And around her heart.”
Carina let out a pained groan at the pressure as Owen pressed down just a little too hard. As she flinched away from the wand, she sucked in a harsh breath, the movement only making things worse. It hadn’t gotten any easier for the brunette to breathe since they had been at the train station, even despite the oxygen mask that had been fixed firmly to her face. Carina was doing her best to keep her breathing steady though, finding it impossible to focus on much else around while the pain in her stomach made her head spin. The figures that were moving around her all seemed to blur into one and the words and orders that were being spoken above her head were too fast for her brain to comprehend, her Italian brain struggling to process the English.
The only person that Carina cared about seeing was nowhere in sight.
“May-,” Carina tried breathlessly, bringing her head up with as much strength as she could muster. She thought that she had caught a glimpse of the blonde. “Maya-?”
“Carina,” Bailey interrupted, appearing in Carina’s line of vision and capturing her attention. She hovered above the Italian’s face, making it as easy as possible to focus on her as Owen continued to examine her further. Bailey did her best to give a comforting look to the younger woman, bringing a hand to rest on top of Carina’s head to push away the hair that had fallen across her face. “We’re going to take care of you, okay? Try to relax.”
Carina shook her head slightly, reaching up to try and pull the mask away from her face. She knew that it was only muffling her words more. As her eyes met the dried blood that was staining her hand, she froze, a newfound panic flooding her system. “I was stabbed. Mio dio. Where is Maya? Is Maya-?”
“I’m right here,” Maya called back, her voice cutting above the noise of the trauma room. She wanted to be right by her side through it all, to hold her hand, but she knew that the doctors had to work. From the second that she had stepped foot into the trauma room with Andrew, they had been instructed not to move an inch or they would be removed all together. That wasn’t something that Maya was willing to risk. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re going to be okay.”
Bailey nodded in agreement. She pushed the mask gently back onto Carina’s face. “We’ve got you, Carina. Keep this on for now.”
“ And Andrea- ?”
“I’m here, Carina,” Andrew called out, wringing his hands together as he watched the movement of the doctors.
Carina relaxed at the sound of his voice, knowing that the two most important people in her life were alright, that they were right there. Her hand fell back down to her side again, feeling all the energy that she had mustered dissolve into nothing again. Maya watched as images and screens were thrown up in the free space around the brunette's bed. She squinted, looking at the x-ray that Owen was focused on, but she couldn’t make head or tails of the picture. She could see Andrew’s shoulders slump in her peripheral vision though, his eyebrows furrowing deeper as she turned to look at him.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t good, Maya thought.
“Her breathing is shallower-.”
“Her BP is dropping-.”
As Maya’s eyes found their way back to Carina, she couldn’t help but notice how the brunette had changed in the few short moments since she had last looked at her. Her skin was pale and clammy, a thin sheen of sweat across her cheeks. There was a blue sheet thrown across her upper body, iodine splashing against the skin that was left exposed by a square cut hole.
“Carina,” Owen started, making sure that the brunette’s attention was set on him before he continued. He needed to know that she understood him. “You have a hemothorax. We’re going to have to put in a chest tube, okay?”
Carina nodded as her left arm was pulled above her head by another doctor. In the back of her mind, details about the procedure were looming - the doctor in her considering the hundred implications that came with the chest tube - but she couldn’t bring herself to think too much about any of it. She tried to set her mind on thoughts of her girlfriend, letting familiar images of the blonde float into her head in lieu of her own medical knowledge. “Okay.”
“Schmitt, hang another unit,” Owen said. “Okay, DeLuca. Try to relax.”
She was trying to do exactly that with thoughts of Maya.
At the sound of another loud groan from Carina, Maya instinctively went to take a step forward but this time it was Andrew that was holding her back, a hand latching onto the back of her jacket. The blonde thought that she heard him quietly imploring her not to look but it was drowned out by the commotion of the room. Maya flinched as Carina let out a harsh cry, a scalpel pressing into her side and creating a long incision down her side. She wanted to look away, to do exactly as Andrew had advised her to do, but Maya’s eyes stayed firmly on her girlfriend - even as a tube was thrust forward into her lungs. Andrew’s own gaze dipped away, unable to take in any more of his sister and the blood that was gathering in the space around her.
Maya gnawed on the inside of her lip. It looked as though the chest tube had worked and yet nobody in the room seemed content.
She shrugged away from Andrew's grip, his fingers still tightly holding onto the material. “What’s wrong?”
Owen shook his head. “Her BP is still dropping. Call the OR and tell them that we’re on our way.”
“I’m coming with you,” Andrew said firmly.
“ Andrea , no,” Carina replied from behind her mask, still catching her breath and shaking off the pain from moments previous. As they began to push her out of the room, she thrust a hand out to the side, hitting it against the first body that she met to make them stop. “Wait- Maya, Maya .”
“I’m here,” Maya answered without hesitation, making sure that the brunette could see her before offering an encouraging smile.
“I love you.”
Maya nodded. “I love you too.”
It was their rule. Neither of them would leave for their shift without telling the other that they loved them. Usually, it was just a precaution, both conscious of how dangerous Maya’s job could be at times. This time was different though. It wasn’t just a habit, it was the best goodbye that either of them could manage. As Carina was wheeled away, pushed out of the pit just as quickly as she had been brought into it, it was as though static was the only thing filling Maya’s mind. As she turned to Andrew, her girlfriend’s brother standing dutifully by her side, there was only one coherent thought that replaced the rest of the noise.
“This is your fault,” Maya said sharply, her voice cold in a way that even managed to shock herself.
Andrew’s eyebrows furrowed at the accusation. “What? I-.”
Maya shook her head. “If you hadn’t dragged Carina into all of this, she would be fine right now. She wouldn't be here."
She knew that she had a short fuse at the best of times, though she didn’t like to admit it - saying things that she knew that she would regret later when the fires were put out and the smoke subsided. It didn’t stop her bitter words from flowing though. Maya knew deep down that it wasn’t fair but she couldn’t help the anger that was rising in her chest, building higher and higher the more that she let herself indulge in it. She needed someone to blame.
“I didn’t make her do anything-,” Andrew pushed back.
“I hope that it was worth it,” Maya spat. “If Carina doesn’t make it through this, it’s on you.”