Summary: You get more than you bargained for when you get your COVID19 vaccine.
Pairing: Frankie Morales x F!Reader (no Y/N)
Rating: E for everyone (mildly suggestive language, mentions of needles)
Tags: FLUFF, reader is afraid of needles, mentions of the pandemic/COVID19, reader gets the shot but it is not described, references to Frankie being in the military, literally the worst jokes you’ll ever hear in your life
Notes: This is very loosely based on my experience getting my COVID19 vaccination! Obviously, reader and Frankie are breaking a lot of rules here for the sake of the story, so suspend some disbelief. In real life, wear your mask, continue physical distancing, and get vaccinated when/if you have a chance! (If you want to know what it was actually like when I got a vaccine, feel free to send an ask, but I’m sure it varies by location!)
Also, for non-US English speakers, jalapeno is said like “All up in yo’ (your)” here!
TAGLIST FOR ALL PP CHARACTERS IS OPEN
You were more nervous than you cared to admit driving up to the large tent in the distance. Usually, tents like this were meant for weddings, festivals, large get-togethers—but since the pandemic hit, they were now being used as testing centers and vaccination sites. After months of waiting, you finally qualified under the state’s ordinances, and it was your turn to do your part. You were adamant about receiving the vaccination, happy to contribute to any sort of herd immunity or push toward normalcy, but your heart still beat out of your chest at the sight of the tent.
The first thing you noticed was how many people were there. It had been over a year since you even saw this many people in one place, standing not quite six feet apart with masks in various states of disarray, and the thought made your breath quicken. The second thing you noticed was the amount of people in military fatigues; you guessed they were brought in to support the clinic, but it was still a bit jarring to see so many military personnel in your small town. You didn’t have too much time to dwell on it before you pulled up to the check-in, a man in fatigues with a yellow safety vest over them standing with a clipboard at the entrance to the parking lot.
“First or second?”
“Uh, what?” you answered nervously.
“First or second shot?” You couldn’t see his full face but you guessed he was frustrated by your lack of understanding from his tone.
“Okay, please park anywhere in the lot and use the entrance on the right. Have your ID and medical information ready,” he parroted. “Do you have anyone with you today?”
“No?” It came out more like a question than you intended, and the man sighed.
“Okay, please tell them that at the entrance and they will assign you an observer,” he replied, waving you on for the next car before you could ask what that even meant. You parked in the first spot you found, repeating his instructions in your head as you gathered your belongings. ID, medical information, right entrance. ID, medical information, right entrance…
“Do you need an observer?” The woman stopped you from walking in, breaking your thoughts.
“Uh…I guess? I don’t know what that means,” you answer honestly. She was more chipper than the man in the parking lot, so you felt a bit better about your own insecurity.
“Because the vaccine may cause an adverse reaction, we require patients to sit for 15 minutes following the shot with an observer, just in case things come up,” she explained, waving over at a group of military personnel sitting behind her. They all had on matching yellow safety vests, the backs labeled “Observer.” A man trotted up to you both, and though you couldn’t see it, you thought he may have smiled in greeting when he approached. His eyes were kind, and soft brown curls spilled from under the camo hat on his head; you guessed he wasn’t active military with that haircut. You gave him a small wave.
“This is Morales, he’ll be your observer,” she explains, suddenly taking your temperature with an infrared gun. “You’re all set to head to the first checkpoint.”
“Okay, thank you,” you reply smally, and cross the threshold into the tent to stand next to Morales. The inside is huge and cavernous, and your head is on a swivel looking for anything remotely resembling a checkpoint; the hum of people feels ear-splitting, causing your frayed nerves to almost snap, until a calm voice speaks up.
“You can call me Frankie,” the man next to you smiled, walking along your side and keeping with your pace. “The checkpoint is just up here.” He leads you to another line of people as you introduce yourself back, realizing your own attempts at a friendly smile was hidden by your mask, and finally looking at him for longer than a moment. His skin is sun kissed, shaded by the brim of the cap he wore. He looked older than you, but you couldn’t really be sure, knowing time in the service tended to age people more than time out. He broke you from your thoughts as you joined the line.
“So are you an essential worker?” He asks awkwardly, and you can’t help but chuckle.
“Something like that,” you offer back. “What do you do in the military?”
“Oh, I’m not in active service anymore,” he says as he slightly hangs his head. “But I used to be a helicopter pilot.”
“You went from flying helicopters to…watching people who get vaccines?”
“Well, I don’t normally do this,” he says, meeting your eyes again as you shuffle forward a place in line. “I’m filling in for a friend, he’s been volunteering for this. But since I don’t have medical training, ‘Observer’ is really all I could do.” You only nod before you’re called to a nurse in front of a computer, who starts taking down your medical information. Frankie stays back a respectable distance, allowing your privacy as you fill out the forms, before you join him again.
“Alright, checkpoint two,” you gesture to the forms in your hands. Frankie follows dutifully to the next line, much longer with various groups of people standing apart. You look at the front nervously, where another worker in a yellow vest is directing people to cubicles where the shot is being given, and absently drum along the paper in your hands, worrying your lip under your mask.
“Yeah…” you start, unsure. But when you meet Frankie’s eyes, he looks sincere, like he’s pleading with you to continue. “Don’t make fun of me.”
“Never,” he responds dramatically as if you wounded him, as if you hadn’t met him 10 minutes ago.
“I’m afraid of needles.” Frankie laughs then, heartily, and you take the papers in your hand and smack him in the chest with them. “You said you wouldn’t make fun of me!”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” he concedes, moving up the line with you as he speaks. “I just didn’t expect that.”
“I know there’s so many worse things out there to be afraid of, and I’m choosing to get this vaccine, but the thought just…ugh,” you shiver, and he chuckles lightly again.
“Can’t control your fears,” he shrugs, but keeps the mood light hearted.
“Well, tell me your irrational fear then, to even the playing field,” you respond with a cocked eyebrow. He looks back at you, almost challenging you, but you remain steadfast.
“I’m afraid of heights,” he mumbles, and it’s your turn to laugh.
“You said you were a pilot!”
“I know!” He chuckles again; your conversation is drawing some stares from other patients, so he says the next part lowly as you move in the line again. “I’m not afraid when I’m the one flying. Then I’m in control of it. It’s when I’m not the one in control that I’m scared of it,” he explains, and something about his honest admission pangs your heart. Still, you try to keep things light.
“Control freak. Got it,” you smile, hoping it comes across under the mask. It seems it does, as he smiles back. Your conversation had been so distracting you suddenly realize you’re now at the front of the line, and panic overtakes you again as you look at all the cubicles. Your head is practically on a swivel until Frankie speaks again.
“Hey. You’re fine, I’ll be right here,” he says gently, and you only nod as the woman directs you to an open cubicle. You almost turn and leave when you see the number of needles sitting on the table, but Frankie’s right behind you, coaxing you into a seat before he sits next to you. The nurse goes through a few more demographic questions, during which Frankie pretends not to listen despite sitting right next to you, and then starts getting her supplies ready. You can practically hear your heart beating out of your chest while she prepares the needle, sucking up the vaccine, but you can’t peel your eyes away from it.
“Hey, look at me,” Frankie says gently, and you immediately obey. “Just look at me and it will be over before you know it.”
“Okay,” you barely breathe out, twitching when the nurse presses an alcohol pad to your arm. Without thinking, your free hand jets out, grabbing Frankie’s in his lap. You stare at it wide-eyed, as if it wasn’t your brain that made you do that, but when you try to pull away, he only grips it tighter, keeping it there.
“What do you call a pile of cats?” he says quietly. Your face twists but you don’t respond. “A meow-tain.” You can’t help but chuckle at how proud he looks at his dumb joke, so he continues, squeezing your fingers in his. “What do you call a nosy pepper?”
“Jalapeno business,” you respond with a snort, knowing that joke, and you can feel his broad smile. “Why did the bucket go to the doctor?” You wait a beat. “He was looking a little pail.”
“What do you call a pretty girl who’s afraid of needles and tells bad jokes?” He asks, and you simultaneously feel blood rush to your face and cock your eyebrow at him, unsure where he’s going but clear that he’s talking about you. “Vaccinated.” Your eyes widen, looking down at your exposed bicep to see a tan, papery bandage and the nurse removing her gloves. You hadn’t even felt the needle, too wrapped up in whatever game you and Frankie were playing, which you think may have been his intention. The nurse smiles at you both and dismisses you to checkpoint three, and you only realize you’re still holding Frankie’s hand when you go to stand and have to pull it away.
“How did you do that?” You ask as you approach the next yellow vest.
“Do what?” he asks innocently, and you roll your eyes. “Oh, that?” he gestures back to the cubicle as you walk. “That’s what I do when my three-year-old needs shots,” he chuckles, and you glare at him.
“So I’m no better than a toddler,” you shake your head incredulously.
“Well, no, but I usually don’t use that last one on her,” he chuckles, allowing you to talk to the next checkpoint as heat rushes your face again. They make your second appointment before directing you to a waiting area, for 15 minutes of observation. The area is outside, thankfully, and you and Frankie settle at a picnic table before your conversation continues.
“How are you feeling?” he asks, care evident in the soft way he looks at you across the table.
“Uh, okay. A little light headed I think,” you respond, taking stock of your own health for the first time. “Probably just from the needle though.”
“Yeah, I get it. We can take our masks off, out here, if it would help.” You nod, removing your mask to take the first breath of fresh air since arriving, looking to Frankie, who has also removed his. He’s cute, you think to yourself, taking him in fully for the first time. Sharp jaw, strong nose, fluffy eyelashes. Patchy scruff lines his chin, topped by a mustache, which somehow suits him. You make eye contact with those soft eyes again, and he’s grinning, a megawatt smile that didn’t deserve to be covered by a mask.
“Like what you see?” He asks with an eyebrow waggle.
“Oh, shut up!” you chuckle back, but he interrupts before you can continue.
“’Cause I do.” That familiar heat raises to your cheeks, one he seems to inspire more than the vaccine at this point, but something irks you, and you spit it out without thinking.
“How would your kid’s mom feel about you saying that?” His eyes go wide, and you realize your mistake almost instantly, trying to backtrack. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that, I’m being a nosy pepper.”
“Jalapeno business,” you reply smally, looking off to the street ahead. Embarrassment has flushed your face, causing you to miss the chuckle coming from in front of you.
“It’s fine. We’re not together,” he replies simply. You nod, toying with the threads on your shirt before he speaks again. “If anything, I thought you were being more of an angle.”
“Acute,” he grins again, and you roll your eyes, back to the playful banter before your inappropriate question. You continue to chat, but before long, the 15-minute timer on the table buzzes, indicating your waiting period is up. You both exchange a look, almost lamenting the end of your time together.
“Five more minutes?” Frankie asks earnestly, and you can’t help but want to agree.
“I would normally say yes, but I don’t think they would appreciate me staying if I’m feeling okay,” you chuckle, trying to find another excuse to stick around but coming up short. “Well, thanks for being a great observer, Frankie. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you,” you smile, putting your mask back on while he does the same.
“Thanks for being a great patient,” he replies, walking to your side of the table to help you out of the bench. You take his hand willingly, desperate for that last moment of contact with the cute stranger you would likely never see again. You both walk silently to the impasse to the parking lot, a stunted goodbye shared as he turned back to the other group of observers and you turned to the parking lot. Once safely in your car, you rip the mask off again, breathing a sigh mixed with relief and melancholy, eyes on the illuminated dashboard until a knock on the window startles you. You look over to find military fatigues, a “Morales” name plate across the chest, fidgeting awkwardly until you roll down the window.
“You know, you have to get the second dose in three weeks,” he says breathlessly.
“Don’t remind me,” you chuckle.
“I was—I was wondering if you needed another observer for then?” he asks with a smile, ducking closer to the window to meet your face.
“I thought you were just filling in today?”
“Yeah, maybe—maybe in a less official capacity? I—I want to see you again,” he offers, and you smile broadly.
“Okay. But on one condition.”
“We can ‘observe’ each other outside of getting vaccinations, too,” you chuckle, and he immediately agrees, handing you his phone while you hand him yours. You quickly put in your name and number, handing it back to him out of the open window while he trades yours.
“Well, I guess now I’m a happy pepper.”
“Why is that?” you ask.
“I’m jalapeno phone.”