Screaming. People were screaming, it was hot and there was the scent of blood in the air.
Ethan woke to darkness, cloth covered his face. He was crammed into a tight corner on his right side; someone was on top of him. Pressure. Someone pressing into his groin. Painful pressure.
"Max?" Ethan cried out reaching to move the covering from his face, to push the painful pressure away from his groin.
Pop! Pop! Pop! The screaming intensified. POP! POP!
"Ethan, hold still. Don't move!" Max's voice cut through the shattering confusion.
"Where, where are we, what's happening?" Ethan stilled himself immediately.
"We're in the President's plaza, remember? By the fountain. There's a sniper up above us somewhere. You're hit. I have to press hard, Ethan. I have to."
"Son of bitch, it hurts like hell." Ethan could feel himself fading in and out. The pain, the overpowering pain was shooting through him.
There was a sudden quietness and then the cries began. People crying for help; screaming in their own private, painful hell's.
Max inched his jacket off of Ethan's face. The searing summer sun was furnace hot on them.
God it was good to see Max's face. Ethan smiled his best little boy smile at Max. His lover was tight with anger and aggression. He had no control and for Max that was the worst of all situations. Max caught Ethan's smile. In this shitty situation it was a welcomed reminder of his lover's empathy.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
One of the bullets came too close and fragments of the fountains marble showered the partners. Max pushed Ethan tighter into the area at the base of the fountain as a small shard of marble struck his cheek, dangerously close to his right eye.
"Max, you have to get out of here..." Ethan began, his hand coming up to caress the facial wound. "You're hurt."
"Ethan, we are leaving this place together or not at all. Got that." Max's voice trembled with his anger as he took Ethan's hand in his free hand and squeezed it firmly. "We are going to get out of this. I will get us out of this. You understand?"
"Hey, you at the fountain, you okay?" A far away masculine voice shouted.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
"God, he's killing the wounded." Max said as he viewed the killing field that the plaza had become.
"My partner's, wounded. Losing blood." Max shouted back to the inquiry.
"Hang on." the distant voice called. "The SWAT team is on the way."
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
All around him Max could see the carnage. His heart was racing, his adrenalin pumping but he could do nothing.
"Max, you there?"
Max could see that Ethan was wavering on edge of unconsciousness.
"I'm here, Ethan. It's okay if you need to rest."
"Max, hold me." Ethan whispered. "Can you hold me, I'm so cold."
Shock. Max had to stop the flow of blood.
"Ethan, I have to put my fingers into the wound. I have to stop the bleeding, do you hear me?"
The heat raising off the pavement was sending mirages of water everywhere. Max was sweating, his clothes sticking to him from the unbearable heat. But Ethan was pale, his skin cool, clammy.
Removing his hand, Max ripped the fabric of Ethan's pants and pushed two fingers into the wound. Ethan shuttered with pain and then fell very silent.
"Ethan, Ethan!" There was an edge of panic in Max's voice. He drew himself tightly around his lover's body. The bleeding stopped, at least from the outside. Max prayed to whatever god was listening.
"Please, don't let him die. Please." Max placed his head against Ethan's chest. The heart beat was too slow, but it was steady.
Scanning the roof tops, he wondered where the madman was. Knowing that the SWAT team sharp shooters would be in place soon, but would it be soon enough?
Max felt the tremors of anger assault him. He wanted to rage against the senselessness of this senseless act.
Holding Ethan tight,
hoping the warmth of his body would hold the shock at bay. Then he remembered,
elevate the feet. He placed his legs under Ethan's to elevate them as
much as he could. He wanted to scream for a medic. He wanted to lift
Ethan and carry him to safety. He wanted to gut shoot the bastard who
was above them. Killing and
From far away the sirens were wailing, horns were blowing. It seemed like they had been there for hours, but as Max glanced at his watch, it had only been 10 minutes.
"Maxmillian?" Ethan spoke in a breathy, softly voice. Max strained to hear Ethan's words. He never used Max's full name.
"I'm here, Ethan."
"Maxmillion, I love you. I'm sorry I never say the words often enough. I love you..."
Max felt tears form behind his eyes, but he would not submit to them.
"It's going to be okay, Ethan. The SWAT team..." He stopped mid-sentence.
"I love you, my Ethan. My beautiful Ethan. I don't say the words at all."
He pressed his forehead into Ethan's chest, nuzzling himself there. Ethan's hand came up to caress his dark hair with a tenderness that Max craved.
"Stay with me, Ethan. Don't go. Don't ever go." Max's words were like a mantra and when Ethan looked into Max's eyes he saw a fierce possessive passion that was touched with tenderness.
"Command me and I obey." Ethan tried to pull Max close for a kiss. But Max watched as Ethan's eyes lost focus, his head falling backwards. Max caught him, lowering his head slowly to the ground. He kissed his lovers lips. A kiss that could not now be acknowledged. Ethan was unconscious.
"Damn." Max spoke softly, the rage inside him ready to burst.
The shooting began overhead and Max knew that the SWAT team had arrived.
Then, at the edge of the plaza. Men in kevlar vests with helmets bearing medical insignias. They were coming into the plaza in pairs carrying the wounded out, god bless them.
Again, the gun fire exploded above as the paramedics braved the plaza pulling and carrying people to the safety and shelter of the surrounding buildings.
"What we got?" A young man Ethan's age crouched next to Max and Ethan. His badge said his name was Wyatt.
"I think there's arterial damage." Max said.
"You just keep you fingers right were they are." Wyatt began checking Ethan out. "Stan, we need a stretcher here, pronto." Wyatt yelled at his approaching companion.
"I can't thank you enough," Max began.
"The fat lady hasn't sung yet, Mister. We gotta get him out of here first." Wyatt smiled with positive reassurance as the gun fire continued high above them.
Stan and Wyatt with the utmost care and speed lifted Ethan onto a light-weight stretcher and the three of them hurried off and out of danger.
"We're taking this guy straight to the ambulance, Stan." Wyatt said as they reached the outer perimeter of the plaza. "Arterial bleed, we'll treat him in the truck."
Stan and Wyatt lifted the stretcher onto a gurney and strapped Ethan to it.
"You can remove your hand now." Stan said. "I'll take over for you."
Max removed his fingers from the wound. They lifted Ethan into the ambulance and Stan applied renewed pressure to the wound.
Wyatt began hooking Ethan up to monitors. Hanging a bag of ringers on the hook above, looking for a good vein to infuse him.
"I have to come with you," Max said from outside the ambulance.
"It's tight in here now." Wyatt admonished.
"Please." Max heard himself say the word with a genuineness that one reserves for someone very special in their life. There was a heartbeat of time as the medics considered the fragile word.
"Get in quick and stay out of the way, okay." Wyatt said knowingly.
Max vaulted in and closed the door behind him.
to have a friend like you." Wyatt said with conviction. "A
really lucky man."