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CONTACT: [plurk.com profile] TheMightySpazz

NAME: Tommy Gavin
AGE: 47
CANON: Rescue Me

CANON HISTORY: Found here! Season summaries can be found here!

In canon, Tommy Gavin is everything a firefighter shouldn’t be, the living embodiment of “fuck you, got mine”. He’s lecherous, opinionated, profane, selfish, manipulative, jealous, covetous, temperamental, rude, petty, impatient, ungracious, and brusque. He’s a habitual liar, emotionally distant from his wife and three children, and copes with his 9/11-induced post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt by womanizing, popping pills, chain-smoking, and imbibing copious amounts of alcohol. Mind you, none of these habits actually fixes it, as he’s still prone to crying jags, flashbacks, and seeing “ghosts” of dead people he knew - civilians he couldn’t save and fellow firefighters who died on the job. It’s made clear several times throughout canon that if Tommy weren’t so good at his job, the higher-ups in the FDNY would kick him off 62 Truck and out of the department in a heartbeat.

Despite all that - he’s a good guy at heart. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have dedicated himself so thoroughly to a profession where he risks his life to save perfect strangers, right? He’s passionate about it to a fault, to the point where characters lampshade the lengths he’ll go to to save civilians on the job but the apathy and languor with which he approaches salvaging and maintaining relationships with the people closest to him.

(But even his motivations when it comes to firefighting are up for debate - it could just as easily be argued that he sticks with the job because it feeds his ego and his reckless devil-may-care attitude.)

He holds most every other profession besides his own in contempt, especially those of the white-collar variety, dismissing them as workaday jobs for overall unremarkable people. This includes those at the upper echelons of the FDNY, whom he generally sees as useless paper-pushers. Nevertheless, he holds a great affection for his fellow firefighters, and shows a particular knack and inclination to serving as a mentor to younger guys on the crew, so long as they reciprocate his efforts. This inclination towards being a mentor extends to some people outside his crew, too - for instance, his godson, Damien, whom he shepherds along through adolescence and onto his place as a firefighter with 62 Truck.

At his core, Tommy is a man constantly at war with himself, treading perilously far down a path of self-destruction and self-defeat. It doesn’t help that he constantly inundates himself in a culture of old-fashioned toxic masculinity, one that encourages him to “man up” and deal with his demons on his own, to bottle up his hurt, drink away his pain, and avoid getting professional help for his issues. His role models are all “tough guys” of yore, ranging from John Wayne and Marlon Brando to his father, grandfather, and the old-school firefighters they served with - ones who went running into fires without so much as a SCBA, just “a cigarette in one hand and irons in the other”, as a retired firefighter once puts it in the show. One can’t help but feel that he’s doing his best to emulate them and follow their examples, arguably to his own detriment in a world that is constantly and progressively evolving away from his value system, leaving him lost, isolated, and with few people to turn to.

  • Physical strength/athleticism: While he doesn’t have superhuman strength by any means, Tommy’s physically fit enough to excel at firefighting. He’s also a good enough athlete to be one of the captains of the FDNY hockey team.
  • Handyman: Tommy is shown to be very proficient with manual and power tools of all kinds in canon. He’s also shown to be, if not outstanding, at least competent when it comes to blue-collar trades like carpentry and plumbing.
  • Intelligence: Tommy joined the FDNY right out of high school and never pursued higher education. Despite this, he’s shown to have some degree of street smarts and above-average intelligence, and is a semi-habitual reader. He’s no genius, but he can work with what he’s got.

AU NAME: Tommy Gavin


To hear Tommy’s father tell it, the Gavins have been in Recollé since the roads were cobblestone and the streetlights were gaslamps. And it’s true enough - like so many other Irish, they sought refuge from the potato blight centuries ago and found it in Recollé itself. The Gavins took to civil service when they found themselves shut out of other jobs, and in the years since have made an indelible impression on the RFD. Every generation, there’s at least one Gavin amongst the pack who goes into the department - and Tommy was no exception. He joined up right out of high school, going through probie school and then onto a place at the department, getting married to his high-school sweetheart along the way. All Tommy had to do was measure up to decades of honorable service in his family and countless stories and newspaper articles about how another Gavin had made another daring save - no pressure, right?

After completing his probationary period at one of the smaller outlying stations, Tommy transferred to the main Tribunal Terrace station and quickly gained a reputation as a hot-headed and brash rookie, making grabs and taking risks most of the older firefighters wouldn't dare take. He'd deny it if you confronted him about it, but one couldn't help but feel he was trying to one-up all the other Gavins on the service, past and present, with his performance on the job. A few counseling sessions and office hours with the captain got Tommy to rein it in enough to the point where he was able to stay on the job with the crew at Tribunal Terrace. The experience instilled in him a respect for authority he wouldn't otherwise have, and served to mellow him out somewhat. His experiences on the job were traumatizing at times, but he managed to cope by seeking out department-subsidized counseling. He still gravitated towards blue-collar spaces and lifestyles, but was careful to maintain a balance between them, his job, and his family.

Now, twenty-odd years later and a head full of memories he could do without, Tommy is the senior man at the Tribunal Terrace station, looking to move up the ranks and secure a better pension and a better life for his kids before he retires. Age has made him a little wiser and a little more mellow, but there are still traces of that young firebrand within him. Catch him in the right mood and you might just hear him wondering out loud about what kind of legacy he's going to leave behind at the department when he inevitably retires.


Bulletpoints for this!
  • No 9/11-induced trauma: Tommy’s 9/11-induced PTSD and survivor’s guilt, and how he copes with it, is such an integral part of his character that putting him in a world where 9/11 never happened makes him almost an entirely different person. Without 9/11, he never becomes an alcoholic, a prescription-drug abuser, or a womanizer, and his marriage is much happier (if still not entirely perfect). While he does have some minor PTSD from traumatic events he's witnessed on the job, it is much less severe than his canonical PTSD, and he has sought department-subsidized help for it, which is something his pride and ego would prevent him from doing in canon. His relationships overall are much healthier, as he is much less manipulative and less prone to fits of rage.
  • Respect for authority: a more aggressive intervention by senior staff earlier in Tommy's career has instilled within him a greater respect for authority than he otherwise would have. That, coupled with a greater desire to provide for his children by bringing home a bigger paycheck rather than feed his ego by being first on the scene of a fire, has led him to more aggressively pursue senior leadership positions within the Recollé Fire Department (truck lieutenant, battalion chief, et cetera, potentially all the way up to chief of the department).
  • Demeanor: Tommy's outlook on the world in Recollé is a little different from his canonical perspective. He is not the jaded, cynical, pessimistic, and world-weary fireman we see on the show, but neither is he a bottomless fount of optimism. Instead, he strikes something of a happy medium, somewhat hardboiled by years on the job, yet optimistic and with faith in his fellow man pretty much intact beneath it all. His temper is much less severe, he is much less antagonistic, and he certainly doesn't start fights just for the sake of fighting.


Public perception is that a fire needs three things to sustain itself: fuel, heat, and oxygen, the classic “fire triangle”. Get those in a room, and you’re going to have yourself a heap of trouble real quick.

Of course, that’s not the whole picture. It’s more like a fire tetrahedron - the fourth element is a self-sustaining chemical chain reaction. Like the kind that can be initiated with a boot to the wrong door.

Tommy sees it in slow-motion - the way the probie’s setting up to pop the door with the irons, the way smoke’s being sucked under the doorjamb. Someone’s crying for help from inside, but all he can think of is backdraft.

The probie gets set, puts the hoolie in-


It’s too loud for anyone to hear - this place is coming down all around them. Fire crackles and warps the wood from underneath their feet, sparks from the flames fly upward, and smoke floods the hallways, choking the life out of anyone without a SCBA.

“Probie, stop!”

He’s at the other end of the hall, and even setting off at a dead sprint like he is now, the bunker gear makes him feel like he’s running underwater. His air tank jangles on his back, and he tightens the straps before hauling ass in a dead sprint, chest heaving and arms pumping as he tries for a tackle.

“Probie, don’t pop that door-!”

The slightest crack, and flames rush out of the apartment. The probie’s like a deer in the headlights, irons at his side as the fire surges out to engulf him. He can make it, just a few more feet-

It’s sloppy, inelegant, and looks more like a play of the week on NFL.com than anything, but the tackle Tommy throws his weight into is more than enough force to put the probie down on the ground just in time for the flames to pass over them. He forces himself to slow his breathing, to let his heart climb down out of his throat - and then, stare at the wide-eyed probie beneath him.

“Next time you want a hug, jackass,” he says, climbing to his feet, “all you gotta do is ask.”


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Tommy Gavin

May 2017



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