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Pins & Needles

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The first time was completely unintentional - a genuine need for medical attention and nothing more. 

Marco had been out with friends the night before, drinking though he knew he shouldn't, eating things he knew he couldn't, and ended up flat on his back the next afternoon, passed out in his parents' living room, in one of the least proud moments of his college career. 

His mother had lectured him even as his father had called for the ambulance. Knowing he would undoubtedly be admitted, they stepped out for lunch shortly after he'd been registered and stuck in a curtain-enclosed room in the local emergency room, leaving him to deal with the staff alone. He was used to it - distracted doctors and over-worried nurses fussing at his bedside while he repeated the same story five times - but it had been a while since he'd landed himself in the ER, and the faces working the floor had changed. One in particular was entirely unfamiliar, and it just so happened to be the face Marco saw first, when a young male nurse jerked back the curtain of his room without ceremony. 

"You a diabetic?" He asked, tucking the curtain half closed behind him again. He looked like he couldn't be much older than Marco - early twenties, maybe - with tired, gold-brown eyes and hair that looked like it might be bleached, just at the top. Rather than the plastic smile Marco was used to seeing nurses wear, his mouth was twisted to the side in a seemingly permanent smirk.

Marco swallowed and nodded tightly, trying to pointedly ignore how incredibly hot the guy was. "Yes, sir. I-I don't use insulin, though."

The nurse cocked an eyebrow and frowned. "Well you keep this up and you're gonna have to start." He was quick in his evaluation of Marco's vitals, not very chatty; as friendly as Marco prided himself on being with strangers, this was one instance that made him thankful for silence. He knew that if he let himself talk too much, he'd probably make an ass of himself, sitting less than three feet from the most attractive medical professional he'd ever seen. When the nurse spoke again it was dismissive, almost a grumble as he typed Marco's information into the touchscreen computer beside the bed. 

"Can't be making dumbass decisions about food; diabetes isn't something to dick around with."

Marco nodded again. The nurse just exhaled sharply and clapped him once on the shoulder.

"You need anything else?" He asked, but it didn't sound like a question that really wanted an answer. Marco shook his head and watched him leave, heard him talking to someone outside the room about the change of shifts, and let out a shaking breath he'd apparently been holding as he wondered why he hadn't even thought to ask for the guy's name. At least the guy was gone before Marco's nosy mother wandered back into the room, but it wasn't much consolation. 


The second time was a coincidence.

Same hospital. Same situation, more or less. And to his silent surprise, same bittersweet blond jerking the curtain to one side to check his vitals. 

"Again?" He groaned, and Marco's stomach gave a tiny flip at the thought that the guy remembered him. "Didn't you get enough of this damned place last time?"

"Guess not, sir."

The nurse huffed. "Quit the sir stuff, man. We're probably about the same age. I wear a name tag for a reason." He plucked his name tag from his lanyard and tossed it at the end of Marco's hospital bed, not bothering to otherwise look away as he pecked at the room's patient registration touchpad.

"Jean." Marco read it in his head a few times before saying it aloud. "S'at right? Or do you pronounce it--"

"That's right," Jean said quickly. "Not bad for a first try." He finished typing and took a seat beside Marco's feet on the bed, pulling instruments from the drawer below them. "Speaking of first tries, how 'bout you stop landing your ass in my ER?" He pressed fingers to Marco's wrist, along with a small clamp on his pointer finger, tapping out an unheard beat as they sat in silence for a moment. An offhand remark about Marco's heart rate being on the high side made his pulse race all the more, thudding in his ears by the time Jean asked; "what'd you do this time, anyway?"

"Uh, skipped breakfast. And lunch. Actually... I don't think I've eaten since yesterday afternoon." Marco winced when Jean drew his eyes down into a heavy scowl.

"That was a stupid-ass decision."

Marco grinned sheepishly. "Honest mistake."

"Yeah well, it's gonna be an honest mistake when I hit you with one of these metal bed pans if I catch you back in this hospital for your damned blood sugar again." He said it with a smirk that didn't just rob his voice of any actual hostility - it made him look so damned good, Marco felt dizzy again despite his stabilized levels. He swallowed hard and tried to joke in response.

"Nice to see you again, too."

Jean laughed - a sound Marco knew immediately that he wanted to hear again - and looped his lanyard back over his neck. "You need anything? Orange juice or something?"

"I'm allergic to oranges, actually." 

"Mmk... I'll see what else we've got." Jean disappeared, not even long enough for Marco to process the fact that he was actually being halfway attentive, and then returned with apple and grape juices, setting them down on a tray beside Marco's bed. Marco sipped the apple juice, giving Jean an appreciative - if not slightly embarrassed - smile. For a while, Jean stood, propped against the wall of his room, talking while Marco finished his drink. Eventually he checked his watch, and Marco tried to hide his disappointment when he moved to leave.

"Well anyway, my shift's up. Annie's gonna be your nurse for the night, and hopefully you'll be outta here before I come back on tomorrow."

"Yeah, hopefully."

"Eat something, rest up and quit it with the ER trips, alright?"

Marco nodded in agreement, but as soon as Jean was out the door, he couldn't help but hope he'd have another chance to see him. 


After a few more trips to the emergency department, the line between accident and self-sabotage began to blur, and Marco had to come clean with himself about the fact that he had it really bad for a grouchy guy in purple scrubs. So hopeful was he that Jean would be the one to pull back the curtain of his room that he sometimes skipped his medication, had an extra helping of something starchy at lunch, or went without eating for an entire day altogether, hoping somewhere in the back of his mind that he might end up at Jinae General Hospital, being lectured by a cute nurse. Jean wasn't stupid, though - nor was he patient with Marco's poorly veiled attempts at landing in the emergency room. 

"Why do you keep doing this shit?" He snapped the curtain behind himself, hissing his words as soon as he saw that Marco was alone in the room. "You're a grown-ass adult, you know better than this!" He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms, glaring. Marco looked away.

"I just get scattered, I'm sorry--"

Jean stepped forward, kicking the base of his bed just enough to demand Marco's attention. "Don't apologize to me! It's your health you're trashing. All you're doing to me is raising my damned blood pressure." He handed Marco a glass of apple juice, raked a hand through his hair and gave an exasperated sigh as he left again. When he returned a few minutes later, his hand was full of vials and his face was softer, though he still wore the scowl he'd left the room with. 

"Doc says you're gonna have to start on insulin." Jean opened a container and threw some packaging away, stopping when he turned and noticed Marco's obviously anxious expression. He huffed as if he were trying to push away the sympathy threatening to show in his voice.

"I told you this was gonna happen." He sat at the foot of Marco's bed, an almost forced frown on his face. "You ever given yourself a shot before?"

"No; I honestly don't like needles very much, so it kinda freaks me out." Marco pulled his legs to his chest, crossing his arms around them. Jean's frown finally fell away.

"Alright, well I'll show you while you're here, but you're gonna have to do it at home, so pay attention." 

With prompting from Jean, Marco unfurled from his seated position and stood, hand in Jean's for a long moment before he realized he was still clasping it long after he was on his feet. When Jean motioned to him to untie his hospital robe, Marco was immensely glad he'd kept his boxers on. Still, the room was insanely cold on nearly bare skin, and when Jean stepped into his personal space, they were so close that Marco could feel traces of Jean's body heat. He shivered; Jean raised an eyebrow. 

"You alright?" He smirked. Marco nodded, looking anywhere but Jean's face while he regained his composure. 

"Just... chilly in here," he replied, and Jean shrugged. 

"Hospitals. We'll get this taken care of quick so you can get your clothes back on, alright?" 

He backed away a few steps and laid his hands on his thighs. "There are a few different places you can take your shots. Here;" - he rubbed at his legs, then moved his hands up to the backs of his arms - "here, the bottom of your back, right over your butt, or the bottom of your stomach." Pointing to his stomach just above the waistband of his pants, Jean tapped the skin there. "That's the best place for most people, since it hurts less and your insulin will absorb better there. But we can try it wherever you want. It's gonna suck at least a little bit no matter where you do it." He grinned, and Marco couldn't help a nervous bubble of laughter. 

"W-whatever you think is best, I guess." 

Jean snorted, shaking his head. "It's your body, man. You gotta call the shots." He reached for one of the vials he'd brought in with him and laughed again. "Sorry, bad pun."

After a few more minutes of considering the thought of Jean touching him in any of those places - and the way it made his heart hammer - Marco finally convinced Jean that he trusted his judgement, and Jean explained the injection process. "I'm gonna give you this and monitor you for a bit, so we can see if this is the right dosage to go with. Sound good?" He stood in front of Marco, warm, gloved hands on the chilled skin of Marco's stomach and forehead almost pressed to Marco's own as he looked down to watch what he was doing. Marco made a valiant effort not to shiver under his touch, despite the fact that being so close to Jean was making him think of things that had very little to do with his blood sugar level. By the time he was able to rein his thoughts in and bring his mind back to the situation at hand, Jean had finished the shot and was stepping away, watching him expectantly.

"That didn't even hurt," Marco smiled. Jean nodded.

"'Cause I know my shit. Now we just gotta get you doin' it yourself." He tossed the syringe into the receptacle and peeled away his gloves. Marco nodded; the shot hadn't been bad at all, but he couldn't image doing it himself would be half as pleasant as having Jean pressed against him...

"I'm glad I have you. As my nurse, I mean." He tagged the second statement on quickly, heat rising to his cheeks at the way Jean grinned knowingly at him. His foot already squarely in his mouth, he tried to gloss it over, only to stumble through more thinly veiled adoration. "I was... glad to see you when I got here."

"Mm. Well there are easier ways to see me than nearly killing yourself every other week."

Jean prodded at the touchpad on the wall once more and threw a smug glance over his shoulder, leaving the room without another word. Marco wanted to call after him, talk to him some more and find out if the interested vibe he was getting from the nurse was really just in his head. But his voice was stuck in his throat and his stomach dropped at the thought of having to stutter through conversation when he could barely keep his thoughts straight. He let a host of doctors, nurses and other staff - including Jean - meander in and out of his room without more than a few words to each for the rest of the evening, and left feeling like kicking himself for his silence.

When Marco glanced at his discharge papers late that night at home, he saw Jean's familiar messy signature - and something written beside it. 

Get your shit together and just text me next time.  555-2327

- Jean 


The last time wasn't planned, and for once Marco was anything but excited to be headed to Jinae General. 

It was months after their first meeting - well after he'd gotten out of the habit of running into Jean in the emergency room, and after they'd gotten into the habit of running into each other in a lot of other places. Shots were still easier when Marco wasn't alone, but he'd learned to handle them pretty well, even when Jean's arms weren't wrapped around his waist for 'guidance'. Trips to the hospital for anything other than cafeteria lunch dates and stolen, heated moments in staff sleep quarters were rare by then; having a nurse for a boyfriend definitely made taking care of himself a lot easier. But it didn't accident-proof his health entirely, and that was never more evident than that night on his way to the emergency department in the back of a cramped ambulance.

The staff was quick to stabilize him, and he was only alone in his room a few minutes - not even long enough to call his family - before the curtain was thrown back and an off duty nurse in plain clothes looked down at him from the doorway.

"You live to raise my blood pressure, don't you?" Jean stepped in and pulled the curtain behind himself, still visibly recovering from what might have been a sprint down the halls of the hospital to get there.

Marco shrugged. "Better than your blood sugar, I guess."

"Debatable." Jean scoffed. He tossed his things into the chair in the room's corner and squatted beside Marco's bed. "Krista from registration called me. I..." His voice cracked and he swallowed the shakiness, taking one of Marco's hands and dropping his forehead to press against it. "Thought you weren't gonna scare me like this anymore..."

Marco smiled weakly and turned his hand, stroking his thumb down Jean's cheek. "Honest mistake." 

Jean pressed a kiss into his palm, hovering there in silence for just a moment before looking back up at him with a grin more like what Marco was used to. "Let's not make any more for a while, alright? I still won't hesitate to hit you with a bed pan."

"Not planning to," Marco laughed. "Especially when the hot nurse isn't even on duty."