Paint by Numbers

Written for the DS_Flashfiction Paint Challenge.

Fucking hell, this was worse than watching paint dry. Or grass grow. Or watching paint drying on growing grass, though Ray was sure Fraser would probably find that process abso-fucking-lutely fascinating.

He tapped his foot, and drummed a beat on his thigh, then jumped up, because he wouldn't sit still anymore.

"Come on, come on, come on, what the hell is taking so long..."

"They're doing all they can, Detective. You won't help by annoying every nurse that passes through the waiting room." Welsh sipped at his coffee and made a disgusted face, though Ray wasn't sure if it was a response to the coffee or his pacing.

"They've been there for hours, Lieu, wouldn't they come out and tell us anything already? I mean, hours."

"Vecchio. Sit. Your ass. Down."

Ray sat back down.

"They'll tell us when they're done with the surgery, and not before, because Fraser's bullet hole is more important than your whining, understood?"

Ray's stomach clenched at the words "Fraser" and "bullet" and "hole" but he made himself nod and then attempted to sit still. They'd taken Fraser in at eight forty four. He remembered because the clock was right above the swinging doors that led to the OR. That was where he saw Fraser's feet under the light green sheet, and then there were doctors and nurses obstructing his view, and he looked up, and the clock read eight forty four against the light beige walls. The paint was old and grimy. He hated hospitals.

He closed his eyes, but the scene just replayed louder and with more red this time, and he heard himself yelling again, and Fraser's surprised gasp, and Dief, whining and trying to bury his muzzle in Fraser's stomach.

Missed the heart, missed the lungs, missed the spine.

Ray heard the rattle of the ambulance and opened his eyes quickly. All got quiet again.

He clenched his fists tight so his fingers would stop shaking. His cup of coffee had grown yellow film over it, the halogen lights reflecting in the rainbow surface, like oil on pavement. He forced the bile down and clenched his jaw.

It was eleven twenty three. Missed the heart, missed the lungs, missed the spine.

What had he forgotten? The spleen. No, that was lower.

The kidneys. No, not them, either.

Frannie came back from the bathroom. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hair a total mess, not shiny, like it usually was, but matted and tangled. She looked so small, had he ever noticed how absolutely tiny she was?

He watched her as she sat down carefully next to Welsh, watched Welsh's big hand cover hers, looked away. He was sitting a few seats down from them; he didn't want to be touched, or patted, or comforted. He knew Welsh wouldn't have, but he stayed away, anyway. He didn't want to be there. He had nowhere else he could be. If he still smoked, he would have gone outside, but he didn't anymore, so he stayed put.

Eleven twenty nine.

The paint stayed the exact same puke-beige shade it was earlier. It wasn't even drying. It was old, and dried, and chipping in places, and he wondered what kind of hospital this was, with chipping walls, and what kind of equipment they had, and what kind of doctors.

He remembered watching Fraser's blood drying on his uniform, encrusting the bright red with a duller, more brown shade, bumpy, almost bubbling. He closed his eyes again, but the red blared at him, so he opened them, and this had to end sometime, at some point, it would have to end, because it was eleven thirty two and still, nothing.

He hit his head against the wall, and it felt kind of good, so he did it again, softly, thump, thump, thump, and again, until he saw a nurse glaring at him, and practically heard Welsh's disapproval from the other side.

Missed the heart, missed the lungs, missed the spine.

Fuck this, he needed to move.

He got up and was almost out the door when the doctor he'd seen hours earlier came walking through the swinging double doors, making them creak on their hinges. He was taking off his cap, his hair sweaty at the roots. Ray froze. He heard Welsh and Frannie getting up behind him. He wanted to ask something, but he opened his mouth and croaked, instead.

"How is he, doctor?" It was Welsh. Welsh had asked.

"He's going to be fine. He'll be a while in recovery, and you can see him tomorrow - tomorrow, Detective," he added and Ray hadn't realized he'd moved until he was told to stand still again. "But he was very lucky. He'll make it."

The paint on the wall began flowing, he wasn't sure why, but it was like drying in reverse. Then he realized why, and legged it out of the waiting room, not looking back.

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