A delicate touch
Ao3 | 3k | Rated: Teen | Hurt Carlos / Tarlos
Carlos gets injured at work and ends up at the hospital before being sent home, TK comes home to find him in need of some TLC and does what we know he would do and takes care of him
Tropetember Day 3: Hurt/Comfort / Sickfic / Whump
Of all the ways Carlos expected his day to go, he wasn’t expecting this.
Though, how could one expect to be chasing down a perp on foot in the late hours of the afternoon to an abandoned building where they could be hiding anywhere. He radioed his position for backup and his partner was already circling her way around to the other exit.
Carlos couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease over the situation as he stepped inside the threshold to assess its interior. There were sheets of opaque construction plastic hanging from the ceiling. Portions of the wall, incomplete in its framework, still in need of drywall. From where he was standing, Carlos could only assume that through the door ahead of him, he would expect to see much of the same throughout.
Maybe he and Mitchell should have stuck together.
At least then he would have the backup for what was about to happen.
The man they were after came charging out from behind the plastic sheets in a side-on assault from the doorway where Carlos was standing. He didn’t have the time to react before a swinging hand connected with the side of his face, hard enough that Carlos knew it would instantly bruise.
It didn’t help to know that the man in question was a known bodybuilding steroid user and had the muscles to boot. Carlos couldn’t even get his gun around before a hand grabbed on the front of his uniform and he was literally lifted off his feet and thrown several feet into a stack of metal beams that were hidden behind more sheets of plastic. The impact causing his breath to escape him all at once.
He lay there in a stunned stupor for a moment as he regained his breath, pain blossoming along the left side of his ribs and back. With a groan he rolled from his back off the beams onto his hands and knees, eyes following the retreating silhouette of the perp exiting through the door and steeled himself to get back on his feet and give chase.
He was prepared to ignore the lancing pain each breath sent to his ribs and winced with each step it took just to get back to the doorway. He breathed out a shallow sigh of relief upon seeing the flashing lights of the requested backup had already arrived and were taking the perp into custody, thankful he wouldn’t have to send himself on that painful mission. Watching them struggling with four officers to get him in the back of one of the patrol vehicles, provided Carlos with some modicum of relief from his innate sense of embarrassment from being overpowered so easily.
With an arm wrapped around his side, he radioed for Mitchell with an update and moved towards the corporal who had taken charge of the perpetrator’s apprehension. When she caught sight of him, she moved to meet him, eyebrows raised in thinly veiled concern at his appearance.
“You’re looking worse for wear Reyes. What happened?”
“I stepped inside one of the entry points to assess where he could have gone and he charged me, ma’am,” he said, gesturing to his blooming cheek, where he felt the drying crust of blood which he hadn’t noticed before, “knocked me, before throwing me into a bunch of metal beams.”
“I am not surprised he managed to do that, considering how much manpower it took to get him under control,” She gave him an appraising look, “report to your CO, let them know what happened, then I’d strongly suggest getting yourself checked out at the hospital. I’d imagine your CO would say the same.”
“Yes ma’am.” He responded with a grimace and turned to leave, seeking out Mitchell who was waiting back at their patrol car and did as the corporal ordered. He wound up at the Emergency Department with his partner in tow, following the same recommendation reiterated by his CO.
By the time he finally got home it was dark. All he wanted to do was wash away the day and fall into bed with an icepack attached to his side. However, thinking about doing those things and actually doing them did not factor in how much torso movement was required.
It was easy enough to get out of his button-down uniform shirt at the station and had assistance to get out of his APD undershirt when being examined but now that he was home, the muscles surrounding the offending ribs had seized up and were spasming with every movement. All he could do was stand in the bathroom half out of his shirt while continuing to remain clothed from the waist down, looking mournfully at the already dark bruises in the mirror that made it near impossible to bend over without pain.
So preoccupied with the task before him, he didn’t hear TK arriving home.
* * *
TK entered their home in the late hours of the night, firehouse duffle bag on his shoulder and exhausted from a long and busy 24-hour shift. He knew that from the calendar of their work schedules hanging by the kitchen that Carlos’ own shift would have ended not long before his own, meaning that his boyfriend should already be home, likely already passed out from his own long shift.
With a yawn he dropped the bag by the door, noting with a furrowed brow that the entryway was bathed in darkness, an unusual occurrence for the two of them. It had become a regular habit for them that whoever got home first would leave a light on in welcome, especially if they knew the other would be arriving home in the dark hours of the night.
knowing the man was home after seeing his car in the driveway and keys in their customary place by the door, he called quietly, “Carlos? You still up?” not wanting to wake the man if he was indeed asleep,
He padded through the house, noting that there were no lingering smells of reheated pre-made dinners prepared for such an occasion as nights like these. Toeing off his shoes by the stairs, TK felt the cool temperatures of the wood seeping up through his socked feet as he made his way upstairs to the bedroom.
It’s not until he’s partway up the stairs could he see light filtering from the partially closed bathroom, indicating that Carlos was not yet in bed. Just as he stepped on the landing TK heard the quiet hiss of pain from the man he was looking for.
Concerned and curious at the same time, he peered through the crack in the doorway to see Carlos’ reflection. His eyes were immediately drawn to a deep purple bruise decorating his cheek that had stretched to shadow around his eye as well. He couldn’t contain the small gasp at seeing Carlos hurt and pushed the door wide open, startling his boyfriend and causing him to turn towards him with a pained wince, catching a hand on the basin with a white-knuckled grip.
TK pushed past the door, stepped into the bathroom, and sucked in a breath as he saw what he couldn’t before. The mottled bruising wrapping around Carlos’ side to the back of his ribcage which he could now see in the mirror’s reflection.
“What happened to you?” He asked, ghosting his fingers over the blossomed bruises as his eyes catalogued the small cuts and grazes adorning Carlos’ shoulder and forearm.
Carlos shrugged in the barest of movements with a bite of his lower lip. “Got thrown into a stack of metal beams by a guy I was chasing down today. Bruised some ribs.”
TK could tell that Carlos was brushing over the details, but what he said was enough and the main takeaway TK got from it was that his boyfriend got hurt and was in a decent amount of pain just from the small movement of twisting his body. It was then that he took in Carlos’ appearance, taking note of the shoes still on his feet and the half-worn t-shirt.
Slightly bemused, he bit back a smirk, “You can’t get undressed, can you?”
Carlos just gave him a pained expression as he huffed out a short breath sounding defeated, “No, it hurts and spasms every time I try to move.”
“Come here,” TK said softly turned Carlos enough so that he could easily manoeuvre around him. From here he helped to finish the undressing process, making quick work of removing the shirt, shoes, and pants, minimising the pain dramatically compared to Carlos’ attempts by himself.
TK stood up when he was done, eyes lingering on the bruise to his boyfriend’s face, “Shower?”
“Yeah,” Carlos breathed out shallowly.
TK moved past him towards the door, “I’ll leave you to it,” he paused by the door, half turning, “unless you want some help washing.”
Carlos waved him off, “I think I can handle it.”
“Alright then, I’ll have ice packs and bruise cream for you when you’re done,” he said over his shoulder as he stepped out, eyes already scanning blindly as he tried to remember the last time they had used the bruise cream, and where they would have put it last.
It didn’t take him long to mentally replay the cream’s last use and found it in his bedside table drawer. Triumphant, he put it on the bed along with Carlos’ pyjama pants. Having already showered at the end of his shift, TK got dressed in his own pyjamas before heading back downstairs to retrieve two icepacks from the freezer and two clean dish towels to wrap each of them.
By the time he was back upstairs Carlos was already out of the shower, attempting to dry himself with minimal bending or twisting. TK smirked slightly, rolling his eyes as he picked up the pyjama pants and rejoined his partner, seizing the towel from his hand. He quickly finished drying the spots that Carlos was reluctant to reach before grabbing the pants and wordlessly crouched down, offering each leg hole for Carlos to step into.
“Thanks,” Carlos murmured when he stood up and moved back to stand beside the bed. TK responded with an acknowledging hum as he picked up an icepack offering it with an outstretched hand and a soft smile, “Come on, I found the bruise cream.”
He watched as Carlos stepped towards him, accepting the icepack, and sat on the edge of the bed as he brought the icepack to his cheek with a wince. TK folded his legs underneath him as he sat behind Carlos and untwisted the cap of the tube. He rubbed it between the fingertips of his hands in an attempt of warming the viscous cream and started lightly applying it to the dark purple bruises adorning Carlos’ back and side.
Carlos stiffened slightly at the touch and his breath hitched in obvious pain, “Sorry,” TK murmured and lightened his touch as he smeared the cream over the mottled skin and gently rubbed it in.
There was a sense of quiet intimacy between them as he worked. It wasn’t often that their roles were reversed with TK being the one to take care of Carlos, having been on the receiving end of numerous injures since they’ve been together. In a way, it was nice to finally be able to return the favour.
He could feel Carlos taking quiet measured breaths beneath his fingers, definitely not taking full breaths as he should. TK hummed, “Babe did you go to see a doctor?”
“Yeah,” Carlos breathed out in a strained exhale and shifted uncomfortably.
“And did they say anything about how you should be breathing?” TK probed as he finished up his ministrations to Carlos’ left side, already knowing what the answer should be.
TK scootched up close behind Carlos and wrapped his arms loose and low across his waist, pressing his cheek to the side of Carlos’ neck, “And are you doing what they said to do?” he asked warmly.
“I suppose not,” Carlos admitted in defeat, clearly aware of what TK was alluding to.
“They prescribe any meds?”
“They said to take some Advil if I needed it and they gave me a prescription for some stronger stuff if it doesn’t help.”
“Trust me, I know you want to tough it out but you’re better off taking them so you can breathe properly, I don’t want to see you get pneumonia.” He pressed a kiss into Carlos’ neck and moved off the bed.
“You know?” Carlos asked, concern colouring his voice as he turned his head to look around at him.
TK shrugged nonchalantly, “I may have fallen through an unstable floor once back in my second year on the job, got some nasty rib bruises like you have. It sucked.”
“Oh gee, thanks for making me feel better about it.”
“You’re welcome.” TK leaned in and pecked Carlos on his uninjured cheek, and then picked up the other ice pack from behind him, gently pressing it to the worst point on his ribs, “Hold that, I’ll get the Advil.”
Carlos replaced his hand holding the icepack in place and called quietly to him, “Should be somewhere behind the mirror,” as he walked back towards the bathroom where they kept the medicines. Finding it where Carlos had said, he returned with the box and picked up a water bottle left on the dresser before taking up his place back in front of Carlos.
Carlos abandoned the icepack he had been holding to the right side of his face in favour of holding out his hand to which TK distributed two pills from the blister pack. He popped them in his mouth and took the bottle to wash them down, scrunching his nose as he swallowed.
TK looked at him questioningly as he picked up the bruise cream again and Carlos answered with a simple, “stale water.”
He let out a huffed laugh and shook his head at his boyfriend’s dramatics as he started dabbing away at the now icy skin around Carlos’ eye, making quick work of rubbing the cream into his skin before gently caressing his cheek below the contusion when he was done, “There, how’s that?”
Carlos gave him a soft smile, “I already feel better.”
TK stepped in closer between Carlos’ legs, bracketing his arms around his head and kneaded his fingertips in the back of Carlos’ head as he tilted his face up, giving him a kiss on the forehead, “Much as I would like to believe you, I can’t imagine that the ibuprofen has kicked in just yet.”
“Well, maybe it’s because of your excellent caretaking skills.” Regardless of his words, Carlos couldn’t completely hide the pain and discomfort from TK. It was plain to see in his eyes.
“Mhm hmm, I’ll take your word for it,” TK said, humouring him as he continued to lazily scrub his fingers against his scalp, “In any case, we should get some sleep. It’s late and we’ve both had long days.”
He stepped back, leaving Carlos to sit on the end of the bed as he turned on one of the bedside lamps and turned off the bedroom and bathroom lights, and flipped back the covers of the bed. With an assessing gaze, he turned back to his partner, noting which side the bruising was on. “How do you want to sleep?”
Carlos cleared his throat slightly and immediately winced at the action, “Definitely on my side.”
“Thought so. With me in front or behind you?”
Carlos stood up with a grimace, “You in front of me, I think, I don’t think I could handle anything touching my back right now.”
TK nodded understanding what he meant, “In that case, you sleep on my side of the bed.” He offered.
Carlos gave him a tired smile before his gaze slid down to the abandoned ice pack and made a move to pick it up, forehead creasing as he bent over, grunting slightly at the action. He collected the ice pack and cream from the bed and straightened back up, removing the second icepack from his side, and returned it to TK with the other items, an unspoken request for him to put the icepacks back in the freezer downstairs.
“You didn’t want to keep them for tonight? We’ve got a couple more in the freezer to rotate through.”
Carlos shook his head, “Nah, I think I should be right. Think the Advil is starting to kick in.”
“That’s good.” TK shook the packs slightly, “I’ll be right back.”
He returned from the kitchen to find Carlos gingerly easing himself beneath the covers on his side of the bed. He slotted himself in on the other side on his back, allowing Carlos to properly turn onto his side and nestle against him. His top side was slightly leant forward pinning TK’s arm against his side, and a firm arm snaked across his waist, hand tucked under TK as far as it could go like an anchor to keep himself from falling backwards in the middle of the night.
TK craned his neck slightly to look down at Carlos who had his head angled just so on his shoulder that his cheek wasn’t touching anything but air. “Comfy?”
“As much as I can be,” mumbled Carlos, voice already heavy with sleep.
TK reached over to the lamp switch and turned it off, sending the room into darkness. He placed his hand over Carlos’ arm and turned his head against his pillow until his cheek was resting against the top of Carlos’ head. Feeling the steady and fuller rise and fall of Carlos’ chest against his arm.
They managed to stay like that all night, both somehow falling into a deep and heavy sleep. The following next few days had a repeated similarity with TK doing what he could to assist and accommodate Carlos limited movement. Their nights ended the same as the first unless TK happened to still be on shift, then he was replaced by a pillow, in the same position until Carlos could move more freely as the tender muscles around his ribs healed.
Carlos couldn’t remember the last time someone looked after him that wasn’t his parents, it was nice, and he appreciated TK’s diligence even if he went a little over the top with his caretaking. He supposed that’s what you get when your boyfriend is a paramedic who knows what it’s like from his own misfortune. And that’s something that he will always love.
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