ATF Alternate Universe
Disclaimers - Nope, I don't own the boys, or the universe they're in today.
Author's Note - If you recognize this story, it's modified from one I wrote in the Emergency! realm. Thought I could rework it nicely here.
Nathan and Josiah were headed to the offices they shared with the rest of the team. They'd just gotten back from checking out one of Josiah's sources, confirming some new information about one of the suspects in their current case.
"Looks like Eddie came through this time," Nathan said as they waited for the elevator.
"Yeah, sure does," Josiah agreed. "I think Chris will be quite pleased, now that we've got another nail for Jack Bennington's coffin."
Getting tired of waiting for the unusually slow elevator, Nathan turned and headed for the stairwell. Josiah sighed, but followed. They were almost to the stairwell door when they heard a commotion coming from one of the rooms down the hall. Curious, the two men headed that way. Upon entering the room, they found one of the building's maintenance workers performing CPR on another. Nathan quickly knelt to help take over breaths for the tiring worker as Josiah took over the compressions.
"You call 911 yet?" Josiah asked the man.
"Yeah, ambulance is on the way," he replied.
Nathan recognized both maintenance workers, having seen them around the building. He'd talked to both on many occasions, about every day things like the weather and sports and putting in work orders for repairs in the office. But at that moment, he couldn't think of either of their names.
He didn't think he'd ever known them.
"What's his name?" he asked the resting maintenance man.
"Tyrone," he replied, and Nathan nodded, remembering the name.
"Come on Tyrone! Come on!" the dark agent encouraged between breaths. "Come on back to us!" he continued.
Nathan and Josiah switched positions after checking the man's progress.
"Where's that ambulance?" Nathan muttered.
"Is hasn't been that long," Josiah responded quietly, between breaths.
When the ambulance arrived, Josiah and Nathan were drenched with sweat. One of the paramedics took over the compressions from Nathan, who was beginning to tire. The other set up the Automatic External Defibrillator. After a few minutes, Nathan again took over the chest compressions as the paramedic began to insert an airway. The order came to defibrillate, and as the paramedic yelled, "Clear!" everyone moved back. They defibrillated three times before the paramedics continued CPR. Nathan sat back watching, catching his breath.
Come on. Come on, Nathan muttered to himself, checking his watch.
The paramedics began administering some drugs as Nathan continued to watch the proceedings, feeling as if they were taking entirely too long on the scene.
"Let's get him going!" one finally ordered.
They rolled the man onto a backboard and lifted him onto the stretcher. Josiah helped push the stretcher as one paramedic stood on the side of it, continuing the CPR. Nathan, needing something to do, just picked up the crew's equipment and followed the stretcher into the lobby.
"Come on Tyrone!" he called loudly, hoping his voice could call the man back, somehow.
After Josiah watched the ambulance drive away, he saw that Nathan had headed back into the building. When he got back to the lobby, he didn't see his friend and fellow agent anywhere. Then he heard a crashing noise. He went down the hall and found a storage room. The big man went in and watched as Nathan kicked a garbage can across the floor, kicked cabinet doors closed. He saw him knock some boxes off a shelf. He grabbed Nathan from behind, though, when he was about to punch the wall.
"Nathan!" he shouted.
Nathan wriggled, trying to get out of the hold Josiah had him in.
"Nathan!" Josiah shouted again.
Finally, he calmed down, and when Josiah released him, he turned around, eyes closed.
"I'm.... I'm sorry, Josiah," he managed.
"Nathan, what's wrong?" Josiah asked, bewildered by Nathan's actions.
Nathan took a breath, blew it out, frustration evident.
"I don't know. I.... I'm pissed!" he finally got out.
The younger man started pacing, running his fingers through his hair. Josiah just watched him. He'd never seen him so distraught.
"Brother...," Josiah started.
"I was right there!" Nathan yelled, interrupting him. "I was right there! You can't get better chances than that!"
He continued his pacing. He threw a paper towel roll, unable to voice his emotions.
"You knew him," Josiah said, finally understanding what was going on in Nathan's head.
Nathan stopped his pacing and looked at the older man.
"I guess so," he started. "Hell, I didn't even know his name until today. I'd talk to him in the hall sometimes," he continued, his voice trembling. "He always had a smile on his face or a good joke to tell."
Nathan suddenly kicked one of the boxes on the floor in front of him.
"This shouldn't have happened!" he shouted.
"This happens sometimes," Josiah said.
"But what if I -," Nathan started.
"No buts!" Josiah countered. "There was nothing else you could have done."
"I know, Josiah," Nathan conceded, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor.
He put his head back, covering his face with his hands, sighing. Josiah saw that he was trying to come to grips with the situation. Nathan looked at his old friend, saw the helplessness in his face.
"Look, Josiah, I'm sorry," he said, stumbling for words.
"Nothing to be sorry for, Brother," he said, patting Nathan's knee.
"We better get back upstairs," Nathan said, looking at his watch, becoming embarrassed. "Chris'll send out a search party pretty soon."
When, after a few minutes, Nathan still hadn't risen, Josiah asked, "You sure you're ready to go upstairs, or you wanna go home? I'm sure Chris'll understand if you don't come back with me."
"Tell ya the truth, I think I'd like some time to myself for a bit," he responded. "Thanks."
"Sure you don't want company?" Josiah asked. "I'm sure once I give Chris that info on Bennington, I'll be able to cut loose."
"Nah, I'd rather be by myself," Nathan replied.
"Alright them. But you'll call me if you need to talk, okay?" Josiah offered, grabbing Nathan's arm and pulling him to his feet.
"Sure," Nathan replied.
+ + + + + + +
An hour later Nathan heard a knock on his front door. He ignored it. More knocks, this time accompanied by Josiah calling for him.
"Nathan? Are you in there?" he called. "Nathan?"
He still ignored him. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the sound of the knocking. Finally it stopped. He opened his eyes to find the big man standing in front of him.
"You left your door unlocked," he said, pointing to the door before sitting down on the couch next to Nathan. "Called the hospital. He didn't make it," he said quietly.
Nathan looked away, saying, "I know."
"Nathan, it's alright. It's alright to be angry," he said, touching his cheek, making him look back.
After a few silent minutes, the younger man finally looked back. His eyes were red from crying.
"I never did CPR on somebody I knew. I never had to watch someone else do it on somebody I knew," he started, tremors in his voice. He wiped away the tears on his cheeks. "God, I felt so helpless! I'm usually the one helping run the call. I was just a bystander today. I felt like I couldn't do anything!" he exclaimed.
"Took forever for that ambulance to show up, too," Josiah commented.
Nathan looked up.
"I know what you're going through," he said. "When I was in Laos, working with my father… I remember this one time - a little Laotian woman I knew, one of the teachers at the mission, was having a baby. I was right there when the trouble started - got her right into my bird with my buddy Hal, who was a medic. I flew them as fast as I could to the clinic. Door to door service. …She and the baby were both dead by the time we got there."
"How'd you deal with it?" Nathan asked, stricken by the story.
"Pretty much the same way you are," he replied. "I was angry at myself. I blamed myself for not flying faster or sooner, Hal for not saving them, the Vietnamese and US armies both for putting us in that hellhole to begin with. I ran it over in my mind - over and over - trying to find out what went wrong, why they died anyway."
"Did you figure it out?" Nathan asked.
"Yep," he said with a smile.
Nathan looked at him questioningly.
"I realized that everybody did the best they could. That sometimes people will die, no matter how hard you try to prevent it," he said, matter-of-factly.
Nathan bowed his head sheepishly.
"Like I said, Brother," he said, lifting the younger man's chin up. "It's alright to be angry. It's alright to grieve for someone you knew. Think it over and I'm sure you'll realize that you did the best you could."
He nodded his head, silently assenting.
"You better get back to work, Josiah," he said quietly. "Don't want you to get into trouble. I'll be okay, now."
"You sure?" he asked.
"Yeah," he replied.
"You call me if you need to talk, some more, okay?" he told him.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah was sitting at his desk, writing up the information he'd gotten from his snitch, when the phone rang.
"Sanchez," he answered.
"I just called to say thanks, Josiah," the caller said.
"Anytime, Nathan. Anytime," he replied with a smile.