Emergency Fan Fiction, Johnny Gage, Roy Desoto, Station 51, Rampart General, Mike Stoker, Chet Kelly, Marco Lopez, Kelly Bracket, Dixie McCall

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A New Captain
by Tammy B

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Red flashing lights reflected off of café windows, blaring sirens pierced the stillness of the quiet, summer night as a rescue squad and its accompanying engine raced through the intersection…horns blasting.

The two men sitting in the small restaurant watching through the window half rose from their seat until they disappeared around the corner. The sight and sound of them, sending a rush of adrenaline through them even though they were not on duty…

Fire Captain Dick Hammer and Fire Captain Hank Stanley resettled as peace returned to the quiet street. Hammer…the former Captain of Station 51 smiled in understanding at the man across from him, knowing exactly how he felt…He continued their interrupted conversation.

“Hank you’ll do fine…I’ve seen you in action with 43’s. You were a great Engineer and you’ll be a fantastic Captain.”

“Look, I know Captain Smith is technically their Captain but he’s only filling in until my promotion was finalized and you were with them longer and I thought you could give me a better insight to the guys I’m about to command."

“I can Hank and the first thing I can tell you is that you won’t find a better crew in any fire station in LA. These young men are the best and I’m gonna miss them. I wouldn’t be leaving them at all but my wife’s mother needs her in San Francisco so I have to transfer there.”

“I’m sorry about that but your loss is my gain huh?” Hank said with a grin.

Dick nodded… “51 is a very young station… just over a year old. We were incorporated into the county just before the paramedic program became legal. As a matter of fact you’re getting the two best paramedics in the county.”

“Personal opinion or fact…?”

“Both…They graduated in the first two classes. Roy was first outta Harbor General and Johnny was the first class outta Rampart…but I’ll come back to them…let’s start with your engine crew.”

“Alright…,” Hank agreed with a smile.

“Mike Stoker, your engineer… Quiet young man, very serious… I brought him with me out of 27’s when I transferred. He was a good lineman and I’ve watched him become one of the finest young engineers out there and he’s been a pleasure to work with. He’ll never give you an anxious moment. He’s married with a little boy. He’s young but extremely responsible and he knows exactly what he’s doing. “

Hank was nodding as Dick extolled Mike’s virtues. “I’ve heard of him and all good,” Hank agreed.

“Marco Lopez…he’s one of your lineman. Good man…he’s very grounded… Never hesitates to give you his all. He’s the best cook at the station as well. He’ll never give you any trouble and he’d drag a line into hell if you asked him to. He’s the one you turn to when a quick prayer is needed.”

“I’ll keep that in mind over the next few days, I may need some,” Hank laughed.

“Chet Kelly…your other lineman, if you need a prayer for patience, Chet’s the one you’ll need it for. He’s got a glib Irish tongue and a penchant for practical jokes which are usually aimed at Johnny. His AKA is the phantom. You can usually find Chet going toe to toe with Gage somewhere, but don’t let them fool you…they’re actually friends, though neither will admit it. Regardless of that, you can count on Chet in any fire to be the first one into the thick of it.” Hank nodded.

“Roy DeSoto, your senior paramedic. Twenty six going on forty and the only other married member of your crew… He’s settled, mature and responsible. As I mentioned, he graduated in the first paramedic class out Harbor General. He and Gage are the finest team out there and there would be no argument from anyone about that. They’ve been together since the inception of this station but you’d think it’s been forever. They both started out as rescue men and they instinctively know what the other needs. They handle a rescue like organized clockwork. He’s very straight laced and he keeps Gage grounded.”

Hank had been nodding his head in pleased understanding as Dick spoke but now he stopped. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

“The others are pretty open…easy to read. Gage is a mystery…very complex. He’s young and he can be quite a handful but the good thing is, Roy knows exactly how to handle him and pull the best from him. They’re more than partners, they’re also best friends.”

“Gage is gonna be difficult then?” Hank asked.

“If I read the question your asking right, the answer is no…not difficult, he just needs a different method of handling…but I’ll tell you he’s worth it.”

Hank sighed. “Tell me more about Gage then.”

“Johnny…? He’s an intuitive fireman and an excellent paramedic. I couldn’t give you a guess as to which of the two is better than the other. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Together they’re phenomenal, apart they’d both be extremely good but not the same. They draw the best from each other. Johnny is your youngest crew member…he’s only twenty two… and a half,” Dick added with a grin, stressing the half... “Which he’ll remind you of if you mention his age…”

“Oh great..,” Hank moaned. “He’s just a kid.”

“Yeah, he’s very young but only in age…he’s been with the fire department since he was eighteen…and he’s a good fireman. John trained as a paramedic under Kelly Brackett and Joe Early outta Rampart. He’s a bit temperamental and Chet drives him crazy, which will usually set him off on what we’ve jokingly come to call a Gage tirade. He’ll make Roy nuts the rest of the day when that happens. You’ll frequently see your senior paramedic looking confused just trying to keep up with him when Gage gets into a rant but trust me, he knows John better than anyone and he can handle him when he has too.”

Hank sighed... “Well I shoulda known it was too good to be true. I guess I had to have one problem.”

Captain Hammer looked at him sharply… “I didn’t mean to give you that impression Hank. Johnny’s a good man…he’s a little naïve and a bit of a kid sometimes on a personal level but a totally responsible paramedic on another. He’s bright and eager and a hard worker. He’s always willing to learn something new. He’s pretty quiet unless someone gets him riled and he stays pretty much to himself except for Roy…though I have to admit, he’s opened up a lot since he’s been with us. He doesn’t talk much about himself or his past and we’ve only managed to ascertain that he’s an orphan and he was raised by his Aunt. He’s had a few issues to overcome but I’ll let him tell you about that when he’s comfortable. If anyone knows more than that, it’s Roy, but he’d never tell anyone either...he guards Gage's past as closely as Johnny does." He shook his head, still not sure why they were so good together as he continued. "They’re so different…like night and day…but they complement each other as a team…They’re incredibly efficient.”

Hanks curiosity was peaked. He wondered what issues but figured he’d get no more answers from that direction, He figured DeSoto wasn't the only one protecting the young man. He tried a different approach. “Then what does a handful mean exactly?” He asked cautiously.”

“Johnny throws himself into everything he does…”

“That’s a good thing…”

“Most of the time… but sometimes he’s more exuberant than careful…”

“Reckless…? That’s just great.”

“Well…no…more like… eager to do whatever it takes to complete a rescue. He’ll try anything…he’s absolutely fearless when it comes to rescues but then so is Roy…they just have two different ways of achieving the same goal…Roy’s more cautious than John, he thinks things through while John tends to be a bit more impulsive so you need to watch out for that because…well…let’s just say that John’s been known to take an injury or two and the worst part about that is he won’t tell you if he does.”

Hank shook his head, wondering to himself if this young man was gonna be worth the trouble to keep around. According to Hammer he was…Captain Stanley decided to reserve judgment.

“Thankfully…,” Dick continued, “he rarely fools his partner who reads him like a book…DeSoto can sometimes be a little over protective.”

“He really has his hands full with this kid huh?”

Dick snorted with laughter, “yeah… we all do.” Johnny spent one of my last shifts with him in the hospital with radiation poisoning.”

“Come again?” Hank asked.

“We responded to a fire with a hot room. The Doctor was trapped and Gage and DeSoto went in. They were told only a minute and get out but…,”

“But…?” Hank urged him on.

“Johnny and Roy were so close to getting him out…they stayed longer than they should. I was yelling at them to get out but then Johnny realized that the Doctors leg was hung up and he went right down by the open door to the hot room to free it. Took a serious jolt of radiation but they got the guy out.”

“He defied a direct order…?”

“You’re missing the point Hank…I mean yes they did, but they got him out. As far as they were concerned that was their first priority. Not getting themselves out.”

“So DeSoto stayed as well…?” Hank asked. This was getting better and better, now both were insubordinate.

Dick laughed at Hanks look of exasperation… “They’d both be hard pressed to leave a victim, they’re extremely dedicated but in this case I think it was more that he wasn’t about to leave Johnny and he knew he wasn’t gonna budge without the victim.”

So Gage led DeSoto into defying Hammers order… Hank shook his head this was just what he needed. Having to babysit some damn, irresponsible kid. He tried to understand Dick’s pride in the young paramedic. Hammer used words like dedicated, bright, eager, exuberant and fearless but what Hank heard was undisciplined, willful, reckless, wild, insubordinate and trouble.

Hank arrived early the next morning. He wanted a chance to look around before his shift started. He ran his hand over the polished engine before climbing up into the cab into the Captains seat. He stepped down after a few minutes and went around to the hose bay and climbed up to have a look. Everything was in perfect condition. Obviously it was a well run station.

He came around to look the squad over and then headed for the Captains office. He sat in the chair and looked over the desk, glancing around the room, with a grin. He finally headed for the Rec room. He checked around until he came up with the coffee and started a fresh pot.

Johnny raced into the locker room. He’d been battling the beginnings of the flu all night, finally falling asleep around four in the morning. He’d overslept and now he was late. His eyes had dark circles and his stomach was queasy. John hoped that it wouldn’t get any worse. He probably should have stayed in bed for a couple of days but their new Captain was due to take over today and he didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot. If he hurried he could still make roll call on time. John let out a raspy cough and rubbed his forehead to ease the headache he’d had since yesterday.

Johnny tried to open his locker but it wouldn’t budge. “Chet…,” he bellowed angrily as he realized it was taped shut. The irritated paramedic whipped out his knife to slit the tape…flinging open the locker, he heard the familiar sproing of one of Chet’s water catapults.

John stood there a moment in shock, water dripping from his face and hair...why today of all days...For just a moment he contemplated murdering the curly haired Irishman before he grabbed a towel.

 

Hank Stanley stood in the apparatus bay, scanning the faces of the four men standing before him. He glanced at his watch…four minutes after 8:00. “Well, this isn’t starting out well…,” he murmured to himself as he looked at the men standing at attention. He tried to put the names with the faces. The sound of running feet broke his reverie as his missing fifth man rounded the front of the engine and skidded into place.

He was young, tall and slender and his sable hair was wet and plastered to his forehead. He had dark circles under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept. He was breathing hard and didn't look well at all. He shot a single dirty look at the curly haired man further down the line and then snapped to attention.

Only someone as familiar with John Gage as Roy DeSoto would realize that Johnny was ill and not merely suffering from a lack of sleep or a hangover as Hank Stanley had just surmised. “You’re late…,” Stanley snapped.

“Yes sir… uh sorry sir,” Johnny retorted nervously.

“Well now’s as good a time as any to establish a couple of ground rules,” Hank told them. “I like my men to be on time.” He glanced at Johnny, who swallowed uncomfortably…trying not to glance at Chet. “The last man in will be given latrine duty…This means you.” He looked pointedly at John.

“But Cap I was…”

“No excuses…,” he snapped.

John's tired eyes dropped to stare at the floor. “Yes sir.” The others pointedly did not glance at Johnny as the new Captain berated the young man.

“Showing up looking like a drowned rat won’t earn many points with me either.” John was looking thoroughly embarrassed at this point as Stanley continued. “And neither will looking like you’ve been out drinking all night.” That comment brought Roy’s head around to give his partner a hard stare and a frown. John stifled a cough, not wanting anymore undue attention.

“Now that we have that established… I’m Captain Henry Stanley. I go by Hank to most people…Cap will do for you.” He approached the first Man in line. “You’d be Engineer Mike Stoker…?”

“Yes sir, welcome to station 51.”

“Thank you…,” he said shaking his hand. He moved down the line to each man, shaking hands and calling each by name. Marco Lopez, Chet Kelly…Roy DeSoto. Roy was looking slightly preoccupied as he glanced frequently at his young partner who was still staring at the floor. Roy shook hands with their new Captain wishing he’d be a little easier on Johnny. Gage was insecure enough without a new captain coming down hard on him. He also didn’t look too good.

“John Gage…?” Cap inquired. Johnny looked up. Tired eyes met Hanks.

“Welcome to station 51 sir.” His eyes slid away from Caps face.

Captain Stanley handed out chores to the others softening his stern lecture with John by telling them… “I’ve heard good things about most of you.”

They all glanced at each other uneasily, wondering who he hadn’t heard good things about. “I’ll be doing some drills over the next few shifts to see where we stand… in the meantime let’s get some coffee and get to know one another shall we?” Cap said rubbing his hands together in a gesture that they would become very familiar with. “Dismissed…” They broke formation.

Roy was on Johnny instantly. “Sit…,” he commanded pushing his friend to a seated position on the running board of the engine.

Captain Stanley turned back in time to see DeSoto take his young partner by the arm and steer him toward the rig, pushing him down gently…his hand feeling Gage’s forehead and then his cheek. Roy leaned down close to his partner, talking quietly. He saw Gage shake his head forlornly as he answered his partner and then sighed. Cap shook his head at the older man’s handling of what was obviously a hard night of partying and remembered Hammer’s word… “Overprotective...,” he muttered as he joined his crew.

“Johnny, what are you doing here?” He asked as he placed his hand on the younger man’s forehead and then moving to his cheek.

“I didn’t want to miss Captain Stanley’s first day and make a bad impression…,” he shrugged. “I guess I did anyway thanks to Chet,” he said in dejection.

“You’re running a fever Johnny.”

“I’ll be fine Roy…really. I feel better than I did yesterday.”

“You need to be in bed.”

John shook his head… “Can’t…”

“Why not…?”

“Wouldn’t look good on his first day...besides I don’t think he likes me,” Johnny said with a sigh.

“Stay put…,” Roy said as he went to get some aspirin. He returned a minute later with two pills and a glass of water.

Johnny eyed them warily… uncertain of whether he could keep them down. “Thanks Roy…”

“Sure thing… You want some coffee?”

“Nah…guess I’ll just get started on the work,” he said…wanting to avoid another run in with Captain Stanley. He stood up carefully to avoid any dizziness or nausea and then headed for the latrine.

Roy watched him leave with a worried look and then he turned and headed for the Rec room.

Johnny barely made it to the room before his stomach began to rebel against the aspirin. “Cap may have done me a favor…,” he mumbled as he ran the last few steps.

John was extremely careful to be sure everything in the latrine sparkled. He wanted Stanley to have no reason to be disappointed with his work. He was splashing cold water on his face as the Station Control Unit began to sound…

“Squad 51… Man down. 1151 Ellwood… 1-1-5-1 Ellwood, cross street Rosemont.” Johnny ran for the squad.

Roy was already in the driver’s seat as John slid in beside his partner. Cap handed the slip of paper to Roy, casting a sharp glance at Johnny’s flushed features. He wondered again what the young paramedic had been up to the previous night.

Chet had also been anxious to please his new captain. He’d scrubbed the apparatus bay with vigor and then carted the bucket of dirty water outside to dump it. As he lifted the heavy pail the handle snapped, dumping the contents down the front of his pants and shoes. “Oh man…,” Chet snapped jumping backwards. “That’s just great.” He set the now empty pail aside.

He squelched into the locker room and headed for the sink to wash up leaving a dripping trail of dirty water across Johnny’s spotless floor. When he finished, he stuffed his wet uniform trousers into his locker and grabbed a fresh pair of pants and socks. He padded into the dorm in his boxers to finish getting dressed.

Chet had just entered the dorm as Captain Stanley wandered into the latrine to check out Gage’s work. He stood looking at the mess in disbelief. What had the kid been doing in here that whole time? Cap shook his head…it was obvious that Captain Hammer had been too easy on this young man. This was totally undisciplined behavior and he intended to correct it.

Chet finished dressing and started back to the latrine to clean up the mess he’d just made when the SCU tones began to sound…Chet left the dorm through the other door, spotting Cap coming out of the latrine. Chet climbed into the engine tossing a grin at Marco as he took his seat on the other side. Cap stepped up into his seat as Mike responded to the call at the podium… “Station 51...KMG365.”

The engine crew put out the small trash fire and returned to the station. Chet immediately headed for the latrine to clean up the mess he’d left behind. He used a towel to wipe up the floor and counters, tossing it into his locker with his wet pants when he was done and then he headed for the rec room.

A few minutes later the squad backed in. Roy and Johnny were looking forward to a little down time. Johnny was tired and not feeling well at all. “Gage…,” Captain Stanley yelled from his office.

Johnny and Roy exchanged a glance. “Boy that didn’t sound good,” Johnny murmured. Roy nodded in agreement.

Cap looked up expectantly as the young paramedic appeared in his doorway looking apprehensive. “Yes sir…,” Johnny asked throwing Hank one of his crooked smiles. It faded out at Stanley’s stern expression.

“I thought you were told to clean the latrine Gage…”

“I… I did Cap,” Johnny answered.

“Well I checked out your work and frankly I didn’t think much of it, so why don’t you go back and try it again,” Hank suggested, stressing the word again.

John frowned and chewed his lower lip in confusion. “Um… okay, sure Captain Stanley.” John turned and walked dejectedly back to the latrine. He stood looking at his earlier handiwork wondering what he’d done wrong. John pulled out the cleaning supplies with a sigh and got to work.

 

 

Roy sipped his coffee, watching the door. When Johnny didn’t come in Roy went in search of him. Roy found him mopping the floor. “What’re you doin…? I thought you were done?”

“Me too,” John answered with a shrug. Captain Stanley didn’t think it was good enough.”

“What…?” Roy asked in confusion as he looked around the spotless room. “You want me to go talk to him?”

“God no Roy…that’d look just great…my partner runnin in to fight my battles…”

“Johnny, you’re not feeling well, you don’t need this.”

“It’s okay…I’ll just tough it out. Maybe he’s just in a bad mood or something.”

“Or something…,” Roy agreed, annoyed that Stanley was pushing someone who felt as bad as Johnny did to this limit.

Roy left the room completely confused by Hanks attitude towards John. He didn’t hear the ragged coughing of his partner or the miserable moan as Johnny began to vomit. The young fire fighter leaned tiredly over the toilet, praying the nausea would go away. It finally eased up enough for him to finish cleaning the room for the second time. He put away the supplies and headed for the rec room.

He spotted the mop Chet had left and picked it up to put it in the supply locker. He reached to open the door but at the last moment remembered Chet’s habit of putting traps in the closet. Johnny suddenly ducked to the side as a cloud of white dust exploded from the opening. His heart sank as he heard the startled gasp from behind him.

Johnny slowly turned to see Captain Stanley coated in flour…the squad and the floor behind him, looking as if it had snowed. John’s mouth dropped open in shock and his eyes widened in horror. “Uh… s…sorry Captain,” he stammered.

Cap stood glaring at the dumbstruck young man before him...his eyes narrowed in anger. Gage ducking out of the way like that gave a pretty good indication that he’d known what was going to happen. Hank assumed his guilt.

“Of all the bone headed, irresponsible….,” Captain Stanley growled.

“Captain…I’m sorry. That wasn’t… I mean, I didn’t…,” he stammered trying to explain without throwing Chet to the wolves.

“Just clean it up,” Hank snarled, as he turned on his heel and stalked away.

“Oh man…,” Johnny muttered in frustration.

 

 

After lunch Hank began to run through some drills…diagramming the problems with a couple of warehouses in the area. He cast an occasional glare at Johnny, who sat slumped in his chair trying to keep a low profile.

“The SCU tones sounded… “Station 51… Man trapped… 2218 North Hill. 2-2-1-8 North Hill, cross street Burnside… Time out 14:11… They arrived at the scene to find a man pinned under the engine of his car. They worked together to free the man. Roy climbed into the ambulance, but as they pulled away the antenna was knocked loose. Half way to Rampart the victim began to aspirate. Roy was unable to reach Rampart and stopped to stabilize the patient but when they arrived the man's personal Physician approached Roy… berating him for holding up the patient’s arrival and accusing him of playing Doctor until Brackett had stepped in to end the altercation.

Roy came out to the squad with a stunned expression on his face. Johnny looked at him in concern… “What’s wrong…?” He asked.

“I may have made a mistake…,” he murmured.

John looked at him stunned…Roy of all people was the last person John would expect to make a mistake. Over the course of the afternoon, Johnny tried to reassure his despondent partner that he hadn’t done anything wrong…even telling him that he would have done the same thing, but Roy was convinced he’d messed up.

A short while later, things went from bad to worse… They responded to a young man pinned down by a bull. They managed to extricate the victim with Johnny sustaining a few bruises from the squad’s side mirror on his already aching body. When they arrived at the hospital they found out that their earlier victim had died. Roy was devastated.

Roy spent the rest of the shift worrying over the incident. Johnny spent it trying to stay out of Captain Stanley’s way. The next morning the two young men headed for home. Roy spent his days off contemplating quitting the paramedic program. Johnny spent his in bed trying to shake off this persistent flu…

 

Johnny was still feeling ill at the start of their next shift but luckily managed to get to work on time, barely making it into the station ahead of Chet and avoiding latrine duty, but the tiredness and the dark circles under his eyes still caught Captain Stanley’s attention.

Chet slapped Johnny on the back as they broke formation… “Whatsa matter Gage…? Did that new nurse at Rampart dump you already?” Kelly taunted.

“No Chet…I…,” he caught Hank’s eye on him and hesitated, not willing to admit he wasn’t feeling well. “I just didn’t get much sleep is all…,” he finished quietly.

“Ahh…so she kept you up all night instead…,” Chet teased suggestively.

Gage glanced at Cap, not admitting to or denying anything.

Stanley shook his head in annoyance at such irresponsible behavior. “You might try getting some sleep the night before your shift Gage…,” he suggested in irritation… “You’ll find you might do your job better and you’ll only have to do it once,” he said reminding the young fire fighter of their first shift.

Chet glanced at Hank in surprise. He knew John was a hard worker and never did anything half way…why would Cap even think such a thing.

Johnny hung his head in embarrassment at the comment, still not sure what he’d done wrong… “Uh…yes sir…I’ll try to do better next time… I’ll get Roy and get started,” he said backing away from the two men and heading for the Rec room to get his partner, thankful for a reason to get away from Captain Stanley.

He found Roy studying the bulletin board, in roughly the same spot he’d been in just before roll call.

“C’mon Partner…I’ll move the squad.” Johnny told him.

“Coming…,” Roy muttered.

John drove the squad out of the way and pulled the mops and bucket out to the apparatus bay.

“Roy…? C’mon,” he urged, anxious to do a good job and give Stanley nothing to complain about this time.

The older blonde man joined him…"comin…,”

“That’s twice today…what’s so interesting on that bulletin board?”

“There’s a couple of openings at 98’s”

“98’s…?” Johnny questioned, “that’s a brushfire station.”

“Yeah…”

“They ahh…don’t have paramedics up there.”

“Yeah…,” Roy muttered again.

“You gonna quit the program…?” Johnny asked, leaning on his mop and using it as an excuse to take a breather without worrying his partner.

“I talked to Joanne about it… Yeah… yeah I think so.”

“How come…?” Johnny asked suspiciously.

“You know…I’ve been doin this a long time…,” Roy said, trying to sound nonchalant, but Johnny wasn’t fooled…he knew his partner too well.

“Oh come on…,” Johnny said in disbelief. “Is it the guy we lost the other day? Are you still kickin yourself for that…?”

Roy gave him a guilty glance. “Yeah…,” he muttered.

“There wasn’t any little part of that that was your fault.”

“Maybe…”

“No maybe about it Roy…now don’t do anything dumb…,” Johnny said, desperately not wanting to lose his friend. Johnny looked at the older man but he could tell that his partner really wasn’t listening. He returned to his mopping in frustration.

Roy was so wrapped up in his own problem that he failed to notice his partner’s tired eyes or the pallor of his skin.

Cap listened to the conversation from his office… It was obvious that Gage didn’t want to lose his partner, probably because the man covered for him so often. One thing was for sure, If DeSoto left he doubted Gage would hang around for long. As irresponsible as Gage was, Hank doubted he’d be missed by too many.

Johnny knew he was wasting his breath talking to Roy. He needed to tell someone before he lost his partner and his best friend. If Captain Hammer had been here, he could’ve gone to him but not with this new guy… Stanley didn’t know them and he’d made it obvious he didn’t like John and most likely wouldn’t listen to his concerns. He let it go for now but he decided he’d go to the only other person he knew he could talk to.

 

 

He told Dixie on their next run to Rampart, she in turn told Kelly Brackett. When Roy came out of the treatment room Brackett took him for a cup of coffee, reassuring the younger man that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Roy argued that he’d been lucky this time and that he’d failed to think things through but Brackett countered with the argument that even Doctor’s weren’t always sure about their diagnosis and assured him he’d done the right thing but Roy still wasn’t convinced.

John tried to stay out of Captain Stanley’s way as much as possible after they returned to the station, while the rest of the crew frowned in confusion at Stanley’s obvious disdain for the young fireman… seeming to single him out throughout the afternoon for every minor infraction with well aimed barbs at the younger man’s abilities… John seemed to sink lower into his chair with every comment…looking tired and dejected.

John was a good paramedic and a valued member of their team. None of them could imagine what Johnny had done to turn Stanley against him. They were sure once Stanley saw Gage in action he’d change his opinion. They hoped everything would smooth out in time and return to normal.

They noticed that Roy and Johnny both seemed distracted but assumed it had to do with Captain Stanley’s attitude, after all if something were wrong with Gage… Roy would be hovering over him like a mother hen. They were right...and if Roy hadn’t been so wrapped up in losing that victim…he might have noticed that Johnny was still sick.

Johnny turned in early, hoping he’d get some sleep and feel better by morning…it would also keep him out from under Hank’s watchful eye. The others followed soon after.

While the rest of the men lay sleeping, Roy lay awake still debating with himself. On the one hand…he held so much responsibility in his hands…people’s lives depending on him and his actions. On the other…he loved his job and he liked the crew of station 51. His eyes drifted to his partner, besides how could he leave Johnny behind? He was his best friend and though Roy knew that would never change even if they weren’t partner’s… how could he go when they worked so well together.

And while Roy still had trouble admitting it, he loved John like a kid brother and the idea of leaving him in the hands of some other partner…someone who wouldn’t watch out for him the way Roy did bothered him. They'd already been that route once before and Roy didn't ever want a repeat of that nightmare. But now...after what had happened...what was his best choice…?”

Roy climbed from his bunk, still undecided. He headed for the locker room to splash some water on his face. He stood staring at himself in the mirror. His reverie was broken by the sound of the station control unit.

“Station 51, Engine 95, Engine 105, truck 107, Battalion 14…structure fire… 956 North Edgemont. 9-5-6 North Edgemont…cross street Tate. Time out 02:27…”

They found the home fully engulfed when they arrived. The family and neighbors standing on the sidewalk in their pajamas... The family’s young son realized his dog was still in the house and ran back inside to get him. The parents suddenly noticed him missing and tried to go after him but Marco spotted them and ran to intercept the young Hispanic couple. They frantically explained to the fireman what had happened. Marco nodded and headed for Captain Stanley.

Cap had been shouting orders to his men. Johnny and Roy were manning the hoses since they weren’t needed for rescue duty. Marco ran over to Hank…

“Cap… there’s probably a kid inside. The father thinks he may have gone in after his dog. Cap ran to where his two paramedics were handling a hose.

“Marco, take over the hose. We may have a kid inside…John…Roy, let’s go.” They headed for the squad. “Roy you go ahead in…John, handle the line out here,” Cap ordered as they ran.

John opened his mouth to protest but the look Stanley gave him silenced any argument. He turned to help his partner gear up. He tied the rope around his waist to ensure that the other fireman would be able to find his way back out.

They ran to the front door. Roy headed inside while Johnny stayed in the doorway feeding the lifeline. Roy crawled through the thick, black smoke barely able to see. He made his way up the stairs, tugging the line behind him. He finally found the child and his dog… gathering them in his arms and turning back the way he’d come…he tugged on the rope. A worried frown crossed his features as he realized that the rope had burned through.

Outside the doorway, Johnny suddenly noticed the rope was no longer moving. He gave a gentle tug… the rope came easily. The young paramedic knew something was wrong. He frantically reeled the rope in and stood looking at the burned end. His heart climbed into his throat as he realized his partner had no guide to find his way back out.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Johnny dropped the line and headed inside. Captain Stanley managed to snag an arm around his waist at the last moment and haul the younger man back out. John struggled briefly until Hank almost threw him down the stairs.

 

 

Inside the house Roy tried to make it to the stairs but falling beams blocked the way. Roy turned and headed back the way he’d come. He set the child down and smashed out the window.

Down below John and Captain Stanley heard the smashing glass. They carried the ladder to the window. Gage quickly climbed up and took the boy from him. He moved down the ladder quickly with Roy following behind with the dog.

Once outside the two paramedics administered oxygen bringing the boy around fairly quickly. Roy even managed to bring the dog around, returning him to the now conscious child. Johnny sat behind him watching his friend with a knowing smile and a touch of pride…knowing Roy would never be happy doing anything but this.

 

They laid the boy on a stretcher, giving the parents a reassuring smile. “They’ll take good care of him at Rampart…,” Roy said confidently.

“Thank you so much..,” The father said gratefully as they went to get the car to follow the ambulance. Johnny and his partner headed back to the squad unaware of the irritated look from Captain Stanley that followed them. He’d deal with Gage back in quarters.

On the way back to the station Johnny tried once again to talk his partner out of leaving. “You know what it’s like to work a brushfire station?” Johnny asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Roy replied.

“In the summer, during the dry season…you’re running yourself ragged. You get a fire and you work forty eight hours, seventy two hours a week at a stretch…,” he said trying to discourage his friend.

“Sounds kinda challenging…,” Roy responded.

John’s face fell in disappointment and he turned to look out the window in dismay. Roy was still planning on leaving. He had to think of a new angle to try.

Roy and Mike Stoker backed the engine and the squad in simultaneously…as Johnny tried again. “And the fourth reason…it’s the most dangerous job in the department…did you know that?” He asked as Cap passed in front of the squad toward his office.

“Yeah..,” Roy replied as the doors began to close.

“Well how can you even think of goin up to ninety eights…?” He asked in exasperation.

“I’m not…I made up my mind about that a couple of hours ago.”

“You mean you let me go on and on with this?” Johnny asked in irritation.

“Well getting the confirmation that I made the right decision is comforting…,” Roy said wiping soot from his eyes. “Besides, you had a lot of reason’s I never thought of."

“John shook his head in exasperation. “You know…for two cents I’d transfer myself.”

As if somehow knowing what his young partner’s reaction would be to his decision... Roy slapped his hand down on the hood of the squad leaving two copper pennies gleaming up at Johnny as he turned and walked away.

“Oh…ha, ha, ha…,” Johnny said in annoyance, stifling a cough. But the last two shifts spent with Captain Stanley, John’s insecurities had risen to the surface. “Maybe he means it…,” he mumbled to himself as a rasping cough finally broke free.

“Gage…,” a stern voice from behind him interrupted his reverie. “My office…NOW…”

John’s heart sank…what had he done now? He shrugged out of his turnout coat and walked into Stanley’s office looking nervously at his commanding officer. “Yes sir…?”

“Sit…,” Hank ordered sternly.

 

Hank stepped from the rig as Stoker shut down the engine. He headed over to hit the switch on the wall to close the huge doors. He glanced at the two paramedics who were still sitting in the squad as he passed. His anger rising once again…John Gage was proving to be as much trouble as he’d feared. The young man had nearly run into that fire without even a SCBA…it had been a dangerous and reckless move and Stanley knew if he hadn’t been there, they could well be holding a funeral for the young fire fighter. He couldn't figure out what could have possibly prompted such a stupid action. He needed to decide if the young man was worth keeping.

He pulled a transfer order from his drawer and set it on his desk. He stepped to the door in time to hear the tail end of the conversation between Gage and DeSoto. He heard his senior paramedic voice his decision to stay at Station 51 and Hank made up his mind. He knew if he transferred Gage, DeSoto might well follow his young friend and he didn’t want to lose the older man. He’d give John a little longer to prove himself but that didn’t mean he’d excuse the foolish action from this evening.

He watched Roy walk away and heard Gage let out a harsh cough. Probably took in some smoke but that was all the more reason to be sure that it never happened again. “Gage…My office…NOW.”

Johnny stepped into his office, his face looked a bit flushed but Cap assumed it was because he knew he was in trouble. “Yes sir…?”

“Sit…,” Cap said.

“I’d rather stand if that’s okay…?” John asked hesitantly, looking at his silent, angry Captain. He chewed his lower lip nervously, jamming his hands in his pockets and trying to figure out why Stanley looked so mad.

Cap didn’t answer, instead he barked out a question of his own…“You want to tell me what kind of a damn fool stunt that was?”

“Ah…um… I don’t know… Ah…W…what stunt was that sir…?” Johnny stuttered nervously.

“What stunt…? You mean you had more than one stupid stunt today.” John swallowed hard but continued to give him a blank look. Hank sighed… Gage truly had no idea what he’d done wrong and that worried him…a lot. “You tried to run into that house back there with no tank, no backup, nothing… If I hadn’t stopped you, you could have been killed.”

“But Roy was… and I… I didn’t have… I mean I couldn’t…”

This was the first time that Hank had experienced Johnny in one of his frustrated explanations. The young man was making no sense as he tried desperately to string a coherent sentence to explain his actions but Hank guessed where he was headed.

“You’re right, he was in there and if I hadn’t been handy, he’d of had to go back in after you…,” Hank said angrily as he pointed toward John.

Johnny knew he was right in theory, but there was no way he could have walked away and just left his partner… he glanced away as Stanley continued his angry lecture. “Roy is a responsible fireman… he had it under control, which is more than I can say for you…”

“I didn’t know that then and neither did you...sir,” Johnny bit out stubbornly. “He coulda been unconscious or injured…”

“But he wasn’t and instead of getting your gear and doing it right… you would have gone charging in there and maybe gotten both of you killed. That was without a doubt one of the most irresponsible things I’ve seen out of you so far…,” Cap snapped.

Johnny looked down, hurt and thoroughly humiliated at having been called irresponsible. He stifled another small cough as his eyes fell on the papers on Stanley’s desk. The words TRANSFER ORDER… leaped off the blank form. Johnny’s heart sank. It was for him…he knew it without a doubt. His dark eyes rose to meet Hanks…

“Are you transferring me sir…?” Johnny whispered.

“Not yet…though I did consider it when Roy was thinking of leaving.”

“How’d you know about that?” Johnny asked quietly.

“I’m the Captain…I know a lot of things. Now I’m not keen on breaking up a good team Gage and that’s what headquarters seems to think you are…I still haven’t made up my mind…” Hank stood up to his full six foot four inch height and leaned over his desk to look Johnny in the face. “From now on you think before you act…understand?”

John’s face flushed an even deeper shade of red as he looked away. “Yes sir…,” he whispered.

“Dismissed…,” Cap barked.

Johnny spun on his heel and left the room.

 

Roy was leaning on the squad waiting when Johnny came out. “What was that about…?”

“Nothin…,” Johnny murmured, feeling sick. He started towards the locker room but Roy reached out to snag his friends arm, spinning him around to face him. His hand landed on Johnny’s shoulder to hold him in place.

“Talk to me junior…”

Johnny’s head was down…he wouldn’t meet Roy’s eyes. “You ahhh… might not need me to transfer… Captain Stanley may do it for you…”

“What…?”

“He was ahhh… pretty mad that I uh…,” he trailed off.

“That you what Johnny…?” He asked the younger man.

“W…well I…. Well...when the rope burned through I sorta…,” he stuttered, knowing what Roy’s reaction would be. “I thought… well I mean…I was afraid you were in trouble and…”

“And…?” Roy prompted trying to look into John’s face.

“I tried to go in after you but Stanley stopped me…,” Johnny said in a rush.

Roy was confused as to why Captain Stanley would be angry until he remembered the scene. “You weren’t geared up…,” the older man said. Johnny bit his lip and shook his head. “Damn it Johnny…,” Roy snapped angrily. John flinched at the anger in his partner’s voice. “Look at me junior…,” Johnny raised tired, brown eyes to meet Roy’s frosty blue. “You could have been killed.”

John looked embarrassed. “That’s what he said…,” Johnny said nodding toward the Captain’s office.

“Well he was right.”

“But I didn’t have time to think about that. I…I just knew you were in trouble. I couldn’t just…,” his eyes dropped to the floor once again as he continued… “Leave you there…,” he whispered.

“Johnny, I want you to listen to me. How do you think I woulda felt if I’d lost you…?”

“Lost me…,” Johnny snorted, trying not to cough as he did so. “I thought you wanted me to transfer…?”

“You didn’t take me seriously did ya…?” Roy asked in surprise.

“Kinda…”

“Well not a chance partner…” John’s eyes lifted to meet Roy’s. “C’mon Johnny, you’re my best friend…you know that.” The younger man nodded hesitantly. “But you can’t risk your life like that. You’re just as important to me as I am to you, understand?”

“But Roy…”

“No buts… I appreciate your wanting to come after me but next time, get your gear and do it the right way.”

John gave a slight nod…“I’m sorry Roy… I just didn’t know if I had time… I didn’t think…”

“I know you didn’t, that’s why you’re so lucky to have me as your partner…so I can do that for you,” Roy teased giving John’s hair a playful scruff, knowing how bad it would annoy the younger man.

John swatted his hand away… “Cut it out would ya?” he growled half heartedly but Roy was now looking at him suspiciously…he could feel the heat even through John’s hair. His hand returned to feel Johnny’s forehead.

“Johnny, you’re still running a fever. Come with me.” Roy said turning his partner and steering him toward the dorm.

“Where are we goin…?”

“Shower and bed for you with a couple of aspirin to bring that temperature down,” Roy said in a no nonsense tone.

John nodded in resignation, knowing he wouldn’t win this fight…the mother hen was back.

 

Captain Stanley had been standing in the doorway watching the exchange. Dick was right about the closeness of this team and he had to admit that DeSoto knew how to handle Gage. He saw the stubborn set to the junior paramedics jaw ease as he really listened to the first angry and then gently voiced concerns of his partner. He turned away as Roy gently scruffed his young partner’s hair. He didn’t see the worried look on DeSoto’s face as his hand returned to Gage’s forehead.

The crew had returned to their beds leaving the two paramedics to themselves. Johnny had finished his shower and felt a little bit better. Roy was taking his turn while John sat on the bench in front of his locker. “C’mon Roy, you can see he’s got it in for me…”

“He hasn’t got it in for you junior,” Roy assured him.

“I told ya he had the transfer order on his desk and he admitted he was considering it. He thinks I’m the one who set up that flour bomb and plus I was late the first day cuz of Chet and he made me clean the latrine…twice in one day and then tonight he kept me out of the action and then he said I was irresponsible.” John splayed his hand across his chest… “I’m not…I mean… I don’t think I am. Roy… am I irresponsible?”

“Personally or professionally…?” Roy called back.

“What…? You think I’m irresponsible too?” Johnny asked hurt.

“Only when you get stubborn and won’t tell our Captain that you’re sick.”

“Roy…I told ya, he already wants to get rid of me…”

“Not without a fight Junior…,” Roy reassured him.

“You’d fight for me pally…?” Johnny asked in amusement.

“Every step of the way…,” Roy promised as he stepped from the shower and wrapped a towel around his hips. “C’mon Johnny…,” Roy said going to his locker and pulling on clean boxers and a tee shirt.

“Where…?”

“Bed…you need to rest partner,” Roy said handing him two aspirin. He walked to the sink and filled a glass with water, and handed it to John. Roy hoped they’d have peaceful night…Johnny desperately needed to sleep.

Roy woke an hour later, casting a glance at his partner as John stirred restlessly. He slid from the bed to lay his hand on the younger man’s forehead. He was still warm but not as bad as he had been. Roy returned to his bed and sat on the edge. He was about to slide under the covers when the SCU tones began to sound…”Station 51…”

 

Roy heaved a frustrated sigh and looked at John in concern as he struggled from his bed. Damn it… Johnny had really needed to get some rest and from the sound of the call out…it was gonna be big. Roy shook his head as he shrugged into his turnouts and ran for the squad.

Johnny slid into his usual spot looking sluggish and pale. Roy glanced at him as he began to roll the squad out of the bay. “When we’re done, you’re goin to Rampart junior…,” Roy told him.

John turned tired dark eyes toward him… “What for…?”

“What for…? Johnny, you’ve had a fever for four straight days and whatever this is isn’t goin away. You need to see Brackett and quit fooling around with this.”

Johnny groaned. “Roy…,” it came out almost as a whine.

“Don’t start John…”

Johnny almost cringed…When Roy called him John instead of Johnny it was like his Aunt calling him by all three names. He knew he wouldn’t win and gave it up. “Fine…,” he moaned.

Station 51 arrived at the scene just minutes behind station 45… Captain Lewis was already calling out orders to Captain Stanley and the just arriving station 36. He directed Hank and his men around to the back of the burning office building. Cap went to help Marco and Chet pry open the back doors. As the bar cracked the doors, the glass shattered and a large shard slid under the sleeve of Cap’s turnout.

“Ahhh…,” Cap grunted in pain as blood oozed from the wound. Marco grabbed Hank’s arm and began to pull him toward the squad.

Johnny and Roy were both in full gear and heading toward the building when Johnny spotted them. Stanley was holding his arm as the blood dripped from his fingers. Johnny ran to help his Captain, taking his sleeve and leading him toward the squad. Johnny pulled out the trauma box, setting it down and then turned to help Hank pull off his turnout.

Roy joined them with the drug box and Biophone. Hank looked at John…,"Gage…, why don’t you go help out inside and let Roy handle this,” Captain Stanley told him.

Roy saw the hurt reflected in Johnny’s eyes. He swore to himself. It had taken him months to break through John’s insecurities and here was a new Captain who could easily undo it all with this attitude.

With a look of resignation, John turned away… “Um, sure Sir,” Johnny said as he turned toward the building. Captain Stanley didn’t trust him… he’d made that pretty clear. Johnny figured his career with 51 could well be over. Roy gave Hank a hard stare but said nothing as he continued to bandage the wound.

John headed inside the building. He saw another fireman named Ed Jensen from station 45 being helped outside. “You okay…?” Johnny asked.

“Yeah, just turned my ankle is all… Look Gage, I got a rookie in there on a line. His name’s Ben Oliver…could ya keep an eye on him?

“Sure thing Ed,” He promised as he headed inside. John easily located the younger man struggling with the hose on his own. The name OLIVER printed across the back of his turnout. Johnny picked up the line, taking some of the stress off. The young fireman glanced over his shoulder and nodded at Johnny. John nodded back and directed him to the next door. They moved office to office, opening doors and peering in, checking for victims as well as flare ups.

 

 

“Thanks Roy…,” Cap said as he pulled his glove back in place. Roy couldn’t stand it any longer. He knew Johnny might get annoyed but he’d have to get over it.

“Cap…?”

“Yeah…?”

“Why wouldn’t you let Gage treat that wound?” He asked nodding at Hank’s hand.

“Look DeSoto…I don’t have time to get into a discussion about Gage right now, but I’ll tell you…he hasn’t proven himself to me yet. When I see something more from him, I’ll start to trust him.” He started to turn away but Roy’s answer stopped him.

“I don’t know what’s made you feel that way Captain… but you’re dead wrong about him. He’s a damn fine fire fighter and an even better paramedic.”

Cap hesitated, wondering briefly if he’d made a mistake, after all...Hammer had told him the same thing but he could only go by what he'd seen. “We’ll see…,” he threw back as headed inside the building.

 

Johnny and the rookie, Oliver moved along the hallway. They approached an office door with an odd colored smoke rolling out from under it. John turned briefly to pull more hose… he turned back as Ben reached out to open the door. Johnny watched in horror as the smoke suddenly sucked back under the portal.

“NO…Back draft…,” Johnny shouted…but it was too late. Ben pulled the door open. Johnny shoved the younger man out of the way and tried to jump clear as the door blew out slamming into the diving paramedic and driving him into the wall.

Cap heard the explosion as he rounded the corner of the office block. Fire and smoke billowed from the open door. He saw one fireman unconscious and another struggling to his feet. Cap ran forward, grabbing his youngest crew member by the turnout and pulling the dazed man upright.

“Gage…what the hell happened?”

“Back draft Cap…,” He shouted over the roar of the flames.

“Don’t you know better than to open a door without checking it first…?” Cap snapped in disgust after assuming the worst. “That was a damn stupid thing to do.”

Behind the air mask, Johnny’s mouth dropped open in shock. He gave Stanley an icy stare. John wouldn’t waste his breath trying to explain. Stanley wouldn’t believe him anyway. “I’ve got a victim to take care of,” Johnny ground out as he turned away. Cap shook his head at the younger man.

Johnny felt terrible. Between the flu and being slammed into the wall, he was exhausted and aching all over and Cap’s attitude was adding stress his body just didn’t need. He wrestled the younger man onto his shoulder and carried him out. Hank picked up the hose and continued into the room.

Johnny carried Ben out where Roy was treating a few minor injuries, including Jensen’s ankle. He set the younger man down and removed his air tank. Johnny flipped his own mask off and began to work on Ben. “What happened…?” Ed asked.

“Back draft…,” Johnny answered curtly. “He opened the door before I could stop him. I pushed him outta the way but the blast knocked us down.” Roy’s head snapped up and his eyes raked over his partner as Johnny raised his arm to wipe the sweat from his brow and stifled a cough. He appeared to be okay.

Ben started coming around. He groaned softly… “Wha…what happened?” He asked raising his head slightly.

Ed Jensen smacked his shoulder. “Don’tcha know enough to check before ya open a door ya dummy?” He said. “If Gage hadn’t shoved ya outta the way, you’d be dead.”

Ben’s head dropped back to the blanket… still dazed…he closed his eyes.

“You got him Roy…?” Johnny asked.

“Yeah…Where ya goin…?” He asked in concern as John headed back to the building.

“Stanley’s alone on a line. He could use some help.”

“Johnny…?”

“Yeah…?”

“Don’t stay in there too long. You’re already exhausted and sick.”

“I got it Roy, I’m fine.”

“Johnny…?”

“What…?” He asked in exasperation.

“You’ve got nothin to prove...not to anyone…”

John didn’t believe him but he shot his partner a look of gratitude. “Thanks…,” Roy nodded.

 

Firemen were moving rapidly up and down hallway’s as Johnny made his way back inside. Hoses crisscrossed each other as they tried to get this fire under control. The ceiling was creaking ominously. John was exhausted and sweat trickled down his face and neck as he rounded a corner and Spotted Captain Stanley and another fireman a short distance away. He moved up behind them prepared to take over the hose so Hank could get back to calling the shots on this fire instead of being in the thick of it on a line.

As he moved through the heavy smoke, he heard a loud snapping. John quickly shot a look at the ceiling and realized it was about to go. He dove at Hank, knocking his Captain to the floor. The ceiling crashed around them burying the three firemen under a rain of falling debris. Johnny felt a heavy thud and cried out in pain as a thick beam slammed against his shoulders.

“Cap…,” he panted breathlessly but there was no answer. “Oh man…,” he groaned softly…this was not good.

John struggled to raise himself under the heavy beam, experiencing a slight feeling of Déjà vu. Only a few months ago, he’d been pinned like this as well…only that time it had been Roy who’d lain under him. He managed to lift himself enough to roll onto his back and begin to wriggle his lean frame from under the beam, shifting it away from his Captain.

He checked Cap out quickly, determining that other than a lump on the back of his superior officer’s head, he was unharmed but his mask had been badly damaged. Johnny pushed Hanks air mask off and replaced it with his own, shrugging the tank off and laying it next to Stanley. Assured that his Captain would be alright for now, he moved to the other Fireman. He found a steady pulse and breathed a sigh of relief.

John coughed harshly as the heavy smoke began to irritate his already congested lungs. John grabbed the fallen man by his turnout and wrestled him to a sitting position against the wall. Giving a quick heave, he pulled the man to his feet and draped him over his shoulder and carried him toward the exit.

Roy glanced up and caught sight of his partner handing over an unconscious fire fighter to the paramedics from station 36. He saw John cough harshly and noticed that Johnny wasn’t wearing his air tank but gave a relieved sigh that his friend was now at least out of the building. He turned back to his own victims… A security guard who’d been trapped inside along with the one of the members of a cleaning crew… He waited expectantly for his partner to join him but when he didn’t show, Roy glanced back to the entrance…Johnny was nowhere to be seen. The older man’s heart sank…he knew without a doubt that his partner had gone back inside.

John handed over the fireman from station 36 with the grateful thanks of the fallen fireman’s crew mates. “What happened Gage…?”

“Ceiling gave way…,” he rasped. He gave them a brief nod and turned to go back inside. Coughing heavily and eyes tearing as he made his way back to Stanley’s side.

John pulled the mask from Hank and took a couple of quick breaths of the fresh air. The SCBA alarm began to sound. John abandoned the tank and wrestled his Captain onto his shoulder.

>>>>>>

Hank Stanley was a good sized man and Johnny staggered under his weight…his already injured back and badly irritated lungs were screaming in protest at the added strain but Johnny finally made it outside. He was coughing heavily now and his eyes streamed with tears.

Roy had turned his victim’s over to the paramedic’s from station 45 and was already geared up and ready to go inside after his partner. He turned toward the building as Gage staggered from the door carrying Captain Stanley. He ran to help him...grabbing John around the waist and helping him to the squad. He pulled Hank from John’s shoulder and laid him on the yellow blanket they’d been using to treat their victim’s.

One of Station 36’s paramedics, Bob Belliveau moved over to help Roy while Johnny swiped at the sweat on his brow with a trembling hand. “Johnny, where’s your air mask…?” Roy barked angrily as he looked up from his kneeling position beside Stanley.

“Inside…,” he rasped… “His was damaged… I had to let him use mine.” John was wheezing badly as he tried to grab for the drug box but his body had finally had enough. Waves of dizziness washed through him and Johnny fell to his knees coughing and unable to catch his breath.

Roy moved quickly managing to catch his young partner before he hit the ground. “Okay Junior, you’ve had enough…It’s time for you to rest now.”

“Need to help…”

“No way partner, we’ve got it under control. Now you just stay put,” Roy instructed as he placed an oxygen mask over his partner’s face and laid him back on the blanket. “You just lay there and breathe okay…?” Roy told him gently. A quick glance showed everyone’s attention directed elsewhere for the moment…He swept the dark hair from his friend’s forehead. John’s eyes closed as he tried to bring his breathing under control. He relaxed slightly under the soothing gesture. “That’s it junior… you rest for a minute.” John finally nodded.

Roy turned back to help Bob with Captain Stanley who was just starting to come around. “Roy…?”

“Yeah Cap…”

“What happened…?” He asked in confusion.

Belliveau answered. “Gage told us the ceiling collapsed,” he informed Roy as Bob moved over to Johnny.

Roy relayed that to Hank. “Ceiling collapsed on ya Cap…,” he explained as he placed the air mask over Hanks face.

“Roy…,” Bob called…sounding alarmed.

“Yeah…?”

“Johnny’s breathing’s getting a bit labored.”

“Roy stood up quickly and moved to Johnny’s side. “Take over with Cap, would ya?” He said to Bob as he knelt next to his partner. “Take it easy Johnny…,” he instructed as his hand came to rest on the dark head soothingly. “Let’s get this turnout off and take a look at you, okay?” Roy suggested gently as he sat the younger man up long enough to ease the coat off him…before laying him back down…The blue eyes watching the younger man worriedly. “Bob…can you get Rampart on the line again?”

“Sure thing…,” The older man answered. He turned back to the Biophone but had to stop as Captain Stanley suddenly tried to sit up. “Cap, you need to lay back okay…,” he soothed trying to push him back but Hank waved him off.

“What’s wrong with him?” He asked in concern.

“He took in a lot of smoke. I think it’s complicated by the fact that he’s been sick for a week with the flu.” Roy replied.

“What…?” Cap snapped angrily. “Why didn’t he tell me he was sick?”

“He didn’t want to make a bad impression on you your first week, besides you really didn’t make him feel like he could go to you…Sir,” Roy added coldly almost as an afterthought.

Cap looked a bit guilty as Roy turned away to check his partner. He cut John’s tee shirt away. The older man quickly found the dark bruising across his friends back, drawing a gasp of pain as his fingers gently pressed to be sure nothing was broken. He heard Bob contacting Rampart.

“Rampart base, this squad 51 how do you read…?”

“Go ahead 51…” Bob handed the phone to Roy.

“Rampart…we have a twenty two year old male. He’s suffering from smoke inhalation, compounded by the flu. His respirations are labored and we’re detecting rales in both lungs. His BP is 110/70, pulse is 90. We have him on 6 liters of O2. He has severe bruising on his back and shoulders…looks like something fell on him. Be advised Rampart…victim is John Gage.”

“51…start an IV, D5WTKO… monitor his respirations closely…,” Joe Early’s voice responded.

“10-4 Rampart…” Roy handed the phone back to Bob so he could give them an update on Captain Stanley.

“Okay junior…we’re gonna get an IV started…,” he said, inserting the needle.

“Kay…,” Johnny rasped as he pushed the mask away with his free hand. His breaths were coming in wheezing gasps. “C…can’t breathe g…good."

“I know junior…we’re gonna get you to Rampart okay…? You just keep that mask on,” he directed placing it back over John’s nose and mouth. Roy laid his hand on Johnny’s forehead…his fever was definitely back…and it had risen. The senior paramedic swept the sweat dampened hair from his young friend’s brow as he signaled the ambulance attendants over. They loaded Cap and Johnny inside. Belliveau climbed into the second ambulance with their other two victims…, leaving Roy to ride with his crew mates.

Cap watched as Roy administered additional medication ordered by Rampart to help ease John’s breathing. The young paramedic was beginning to drift in and out. Roy turned to see Hank’s dark eyes watching him… “I wanted to thank you Roy…”

“For what…?”

“Getting me out of there…”

“I didn’t…,” Roy said flatly. “Johnny did, along with Jankowski from 36…”

“By himself…?” Cap asked in disbelief.

“Yeah Cap…”

“With his back injured like that…?”

“Yeah…,” Roy said with obvious pride in his young partner.

“But…what was he doing in there without his SCBA…,” Cap asked, annoyed that even after his lecture Gage had disobeyed him and put himself in jeopardy by discarding his safety equipment.

“Yours was damaged when the ceiling fell on you…he gave you his while he got you and Janny out.” He said glancing at Johnny who continued to wheeze alarmingly.

Cap laid his head back deep in thought…had he been too tough on his youngest crew member…? He’d never really given him a fair chance. He’d arrived his first day prepared to find fault and he’d made sure he did. He felt like a heel.

Johnny suddenly began to stir, struggling desperately against the straps. His breathing coming in short, sharp gasps, drawing Roy's immediate attention … panicked brown eyes flew open. “B...br…breathe… C…can’t breathe…” Johnny’s eyes widened in terror as he gasped one final time… and stopped breathing.

Roy threw the Biophone to the ambulance attendant… “Mark… call Rampart, tell them Johnny’s in respiratory arrest and I’m inserting an esophageal airway…tell them he’s cyanotic and diaphoretic… Paul, stop the ambulance…,” he yelled grabbing the tube and the lubricant…he experienced a moment of déjà vu…only this time it wasn’t a stranger, it was his partner and best friend.

Cap struggled to sit up… “What’s happening Roy…?” Hank asked worriedly.

“He’s stopped breathing Cap… C’mon…Johnny, c’mon … don’t do this to me junior.” Roy whispered as he intubated his partner. He heard Mark’s 10-4 and then the other man was back at his side. “Mark, take over the ambu bag,” Roy instructed as he grabbed the stethoscope to be sure Johnny was properly ventilated. He snapped up the phone. “Rampart…airway is established and his color is returning to normal… Let’s go Paul…,” he yelled.

“What’s your ETA 51…?”

“ETA three minutes Rampart.”

“Treatment room three, as soon as you arrive,” Joe instructed. Early headed for the treatment room barely catching Roy’s acknowledging 10-4…

Johnny was rushed into the treatment room, where Joe Early was waiting. Cap went to treatment room five with Dr Morton. Roy helped transfer Johnny to the table as a flurry of activity erupted around the young paramedic. Roy was pale and shaking…afraid of losing his best friend.

Dixie noticed Roy’s pallor and took his arm propelling him toward the door. “Roy…, go check on your Captain…,” she instructed.

“Dix, please…”

“Roy…he’s in good hands. C’mon,” she insisted as she pushed him gently from the room. Roy threw a glance over her shoulder for one last look at Johnny before the door closed in his face.

 

“This is my fault Dix…,” Roy said quietly.

“How do you figure that Roy…?”

“I knew he was sick…He’s been battling the flu for almost week but he didn’t want to take time off because we’d just got a new Captain. He’s been riding Johnny from day one and he was afraid he’d make it worse by calling in sick. I let him convince me not to say anything.” Roy stared at the floor morosely, caught in his own guilt and remorse.

Dixie looked up at him… “Roy…I’m not going to lie to you…you both should have said something but you couldn’t know he’d end up in a fire without his air mask. How’d that happen anyway?”

“When the ceiling collapsed, Captain Stanley’s air mask was damaged. Johnny had to get the other fireman out so he left Cap his own tank…” Roy’s explanation was cut off as a hand descended on his shoulder. He whirled around to find Hank Stanley standing there, looking guilty himself.

“Cap…,”Roy acknowledged the older man. “How are you…?”

“I’m fine Roy…just a minor bump on the head. It could have been a lot worse if not for Gage shoving me out of the way.” Roy nodded. “I’ve been listening to you…”

“Look, I’m sorry Cap but…”

Hank raised his hand to stop him. “You’re right Roy. I came in with a lot of preconceived ideas and I really didn’t give Gage…Johnny,” he corrected himself… “a fair chance.”

“No you didn’t…,” Roy agreed. “He’s an excellent fireman Cap and I know you think he’s an irresponsible kid but you’re wrong…he maybe young but he’s good Cap…,” he said earnestly. “He’s dedicated and smart and reliable and you couldn’t ask for a better paramedic.”

Dixie had been nodding her head in agreement with every word Roy uttered…she laid her hand on his arm as he finished. “I’m gonna leave you two to talk while I go check on Johnny…,” she said giving Roy a gentle push toward the waiting room with a nod at Hank. He took the hint and led his senior paramedic away from the door.

Hank sat Roy in one chair before sinking gratefully into the next. “Okay Roy, let’s have it… All of it.”

“Cap, when Johnny showed up that first day he didn’t have a hangover like you thought... he was sick.”

“He’s been fighting it this long and I didn’t notice?”

“You didn’t know him well enough to recognize the signs…heck no one else really did either…Johnny’s really good at hiding things like that.” Hank remembered Dick Hammers words. ‘He’s been known to take an injury or two and the worst part about that is he won’t tell you if he does…’

“I guess I’ll have to learn to keep my eye on that,” Hank said softly.

“You plannin on keepin him around then Cap…?” Roy asked seriously.

“He told you about that?”

“Johnny pretty much tells me everything…eventually.” They both grinned ruefully.

“Why didn’t he just tell me he was sick?”

“Would you have believed him…?”

Cap looked into narrowed blue eyes…recognizing the challenge in them… “Probably not...I probably would have assumed he’d been out all night, ” he admitted. Roy shrugged in a ‘there you are then…’ gesture.

“You care about him a lot don’t you…?” Hank asked the younger man.

“Yeah Cap…I do…more than I can even explain…”

Hank knew without a doubt that the feeling was returned...It's what had driven John Gage into throwing his training and skills aside to try and run into an inferno without a second thought for his own safety. Something he'd probably think twice about for anyone else.

 

 

Mike, Marco and Chet finally arrived at the Hospital. They were soot covered and sweat streaked. They spotted Hank and Roy and hurried to their side…

“Cap…you doin alright?” Mike asked.

“Yeah…It was just a small thump. Thank God I got a hard head.”

Chet glanced around in concern… “Where’s Gage?” He asked anxiously. Cap and Roy glanced at each other worriedly.

“Is Johnny okay…?” Marco asked, catching the exchange.

“Guy’s hold on and give Roy a chance…,” Cap soothed.

“Johnny went into respiratory arrest in the ambulance…,” Roy began.

“What…?” three voices gasped in unison.

“What happened Roy…?” Mike asked.

“Yeah...I mean I know he took in a little smoke…,” Chet added.

“He took in a lot of smoke on top of having the flu…,” Roy corrected. “His lungs just couldn’t handle the strain. They…they just quit,” he muttered quietly, guilt riding his features once more.

“Johnny was sick…?” Chet said in disgust. “Man, I never woulda zapped if I’d a known he was sick.”

“Zapped him how Kelly…?” Hank asked.

“Well Cap…,” Chet began to weasel… “You know…the usual stuff I pull on Gage.”

“Like…?” Cap asked in a no nonsense tone.

“Water bombs…,” Chet said with a shrug.

“Flour bombs…,” Marco added.

“Taping his locker closed to slow him down and make him late…,” Mike threw in.

Cap shook his head… "The flour bomb in the utility closet…you set that?” Cap asked in shock.

Chet nodded with a grin… “Get’s Gage every time…,” he smirked.

“Well you didn’t get Gage with the last one Kelly, you got me and I blamed it on him…,” Cap snapped.

The grin faded from Chet’s face… “Uh sorry Cap, I didn’t know that. I’d a never let John take the blame for something he didn’t do.”

“Why didn’t he tell…?” Cap trailed off as his eyes met Roy’s. “Because I wouldn’t have believed him anyway…,” he said softly in answer to his own question. Roy nodded. “That first day…when he was late and he tried to explain…was that your doing too…?” Cap asked suspiciously.

Chet looked guiltily at the floor. “I…ah taped his locker shut and hit him with a water bomb…but Cap I swear, the phantom would never have done that if he’d of known his pigeon was sick,” Chet waffled passing the buck to his prankster alter ego.

“The phantom…?” Cap rapped out.

“Uh…that’d be me Cap…,” Kelly clarified.

“So I’ve been told,” Cap answered.

Ed Jensen and Ben Oliver walked out of treatment room one with Kelly Brackett. “I don’t think either of you will have any problems, but if you do, don’t hesitate to go to your own doctor.” Both men nodded. They noticed the crew of 51 and headed in their direction. “Roy…?” Kel questioned, “What’s going on…?” He glanced around the waiting area. “Where’s Johnny…?” Roy nodded toward the treatment room. “Bad…?” Kel asked.

“Bad…,” Roy answered seriously. Kel spun on his heel and headed for the treatment room.

Ben Oliver approached Roy. “Uh….can you do me a favor…?” Roy looked at the kid curiously. He wasn’t much younger than Johnny. “Your partner saved my life today. When I opened that door…man that explosion woulda killed me if Gage hadn’t pushed me outta the way. I was hoping you could thank him for me…?”

A groan from Stanley interrupted Roy’s reply. They all looked at him in concern. “Cap, you okay…?” Roy asked.

“No Roy…I’m not okay. I’m an idiot and I really feel stupid right now,” Hank muttered.

“Why?” Roy asked.

“I was just around the corner when that door blew. When I got there, John was in front of it. He’d been knocked down and was just climbing back to his feet….I just…assumed he…”

“Opened the door…,”Roy finished for him.

“Yeah…”

“Cap…Johnny’s an experienced fireman, he’d have never made a rookie mistake like that.” Ben blushed at Roy’s words.

“Yeah…I know that…now. Boy, he’s never gonna be able to get past this with me…,” Hank said shaking his head in despair.

“You’d be surprised Cap…,” Mike corrected.

“Johnny’s a firm believer in forgive and forget…,” Marco said.

“And it’s a good thing too…,” Chet piped in… “Or he’d never have spoken to me again after our first shift…”

“Or your second, or third, or...,” Roy trailed off as Kelly shot him a glare.

“Okay…okay we get the point,” the Irishman muttered.

“I suppose he cleaned the latrine that day too…?”

“It looked clean when I went in…,” Kelly pointed out.

“And when was that Chet?” Stanley asked.

“Right after the squad got toned out…, I dropped the bucket of water and had to go get cleaned up. It looked alright then.”

“Until you tracked dirty water across it…?”

“Well yeah, but I cleaned it up when we got back…,”

“No wonder he looked so confused…brother have I been such a jackass…I can’t believe I was so unfair…Great Captain I am huh?” Hank hung his head in misery. Roy suddenly understood…Cap had seen it right after Chet had made the mess.

“Then be a great Captain.." Hank looked at him uncertainly. "Go to Johnny and make it right with him…, he’ll listen Cap…I know him,” Roy urged.

Captain Stanley nodded. He repeated the words he’d used with Captain Hammer, only this time with a new attitude. “Tell me about Gage then…?” He asked finally realizing the depth of feeling between the members of this crew…and John Gage was a big part of it. Roy wasn't the only protective one in this group.

The others began to talk about Johnny, The jokes they’d played, his inability to hold a grudge, some of his best rescues. Cap nodded alternately amused and then impressed by what he was hearing.

Dr Brackett, Dr Early and Dixie came out of the room a short time later and approached the group. Roy saw them first and quickly came to his feet. “How’s Johnny…?” He asked worriedly.

“He gave us quite a workout in there…,” Joe told them.

“I don’t know what we’re gonna do with that partner of yours Roy… He sure likes to keep us on our toes,” Brackett quipped.

“But is he okay…?” Roy pressed.

“He’s out of danger Roy…,” Joe assured him. “We’ve stabilized his breathing and started him on antibiotics and by the way…he doesn’t have the flu…he has pneumonia. Probably developed from his bout with the flu and then add to that the lack of rest and smoke inhalation…it’s a bad combination.”

“He’s got some very serious bruising across his back and particularly his left shoulder but nothing’s broken. He’ll be sore for a few days, that’s for sure.” Brackett told him.

“Can we see him…?” Roy asked hopefully.

“He’s sleeping and we’ll be moving him to a room soon, you can see him then.” Kel told the crew. He took pity on the blonde paramedic looking at him anxiously. “You can see him now Roy,” he said nodding toward the room. Roy grinned and headed for the exam room. “Roy…?” Brackett called after him.

“Yeah…?”

“We need to talk later about Johnny and this little habit he has of hiding stuff like this…” Roy nodded, knowing that at least this time he was as guilty as John. “He should have been treated a week ago.”

“Yeah… I know,” he agreed.

Roy entered the treatment room, a young student nurse moved around his partner monitoring his vitals and his oxygen levels. Roy moved to his young friend’s side. Johnny’s breathing was rasping but steady. An oxygen mask covered his nose and mouth. Dark circles beneath his eyes accentuated the pallor of his skin, blending with the dark lashes that rested on his cheek bones. His left arm was immobilized against his body…his hand supported by a sling.

Roy gently rested his left hand on the dark hair…seemingly unaware of the soothing, stroking motion he was making as he slid his right into John’s limp fingers. “Hey junior…,” Roy whispered. “You scared ten years off me…the older man smiled as he felt John’s slender fingers tighten slightly around his own but the dark eyes remained shut.

Two orderlies hustled in with a gurney. Roy assisted them in moving Johnny onto it. His friends were in the hall as they left the room. “He’ll be in 215…just give us five minutes,” Roy told them as they moved off.

The engine crew of station 51 entered the room a few minutes later. John’s breathing was a raspy wheeze but they were all relieved that he was at least breathing on his own. Roy sat in the chair next to him, his hand rested on Johnny’s shoulder.

The dark brown eyes were cracked open as the younger man struggled to wake up. “Roy…?” The breathy groan escaped from under the mask. His hand came up to blindly push it away.

Roy caught his hand before he could push the mask off. “Oh no you don’t junior…you leave that on.” Johnny’s hand tightened around Roy’s and disregarding the grins of the rest of the crew… the older man held it securely.

“W…what hap…happened…?” Johnny whispered.

“You stopped breathing on me there junior. Doc says pneumonia compounded by smoke inhalation.”

“S…smoke…?” Memory began to return. John’s eyes widened…”C…cap o…okay…?” He gasped out before coughing harshly.

“Cap’s fine…,” Hank said as he moved closer to the bed. “Thanks to you…”

John’s eyes flicked toward his Captain hesitantly, expecting yet another scathing set down from the older man over this latest mishap. Hank didn’t disappointment him…well…almost.”

“What were you thinking John…?” The words were a rebuke but the tone was quiet. “You could have died in there pal… That latest stunt you pulled…,” Cap hesitated seeing the wounded look in Johnny’s eyes as he glanced away and waited for the axe to fall. He smiled gently as he finished… "Took a lot of courage and determination and I wanted first to thank you for saving my life.” Johnny’s eyes snapped back to his Captain in surprise. His hand tightened around Roy’s until the older man winced slightly.

“Y…you’re not m…mad?” Johnny wheezed.

“Only at myself John…You see I spent some time talking to someone who knew you all pretty well. I guess I should have spent more time listening. I guess I missed his point about you entirely. I came here thinking you were going to give me an ulcer. Hell, you still might but for entirely different reasons than I originally thought.”

The rest of the guys grinned at each other as Cap continued. “I didn’t really give you a fair chance and I’m sorry. I’d really like to start over again…if you’ll let me…?” Cap asked.

It would serve him right if Gage rejected his apology but his friends had called it right…The dark brown eyes met his, searchingly. He finally gave a hesitant nod as if coming to a decision.

“S…sure Cap…,” he wheezed. His eyes began to droop tiredly and his breathing began to get heavier.

“Okay guy’s, I think he’s had enough visiting for today…,” Roy said protectively. “He needs to sleep now.”

“Sure thing Roy…, I’ll ah…take the squad out of service… there’s only a couple of hours left anyway” Cap told the younger man.

“Thanks Cap…”

“Gentlemen, let’s let John get some rest huh?”

“Right Cap…,” Mike agreed as he and the rest moved to at least give their friend a reassuring pat on the leg or hand.

“We’ll be back tomorrow, pal.” Chet promised.

“Just rest okay John..?” Marco said softly. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

John tried to nod but he was too tired. The dark eyes slid closed.

 

 

Roy stayed with Johnny long after he’d drifted off. Marco had driven the squad back for them. John had retained a firm grip on his partner’s hand. Roy hoped the others wouldn’t harass the more sensitive, younger man about it later. Johnny would be mortified.

Roy sat quietly, reflecting on his conversation with Cap and his partnership with John as he watched him sleep…listening to the harsh rasp of his breathing and thinking of how close they’d become in the last few months.

He grinned ruefully. Cap had teased him in the waiting room, playfully accusing him of being an over protective big brother and that he’d seen that right off on the first day. Right now Roy wished he’d been a little more protective…maybe Johnny wouldn’t be here now. If he’d forced Johnny to admit he was ill that morning or had gone to Cap himself, this could have been avoided.

He’d made the decision in the last hour to be sure to keep a much closer eye on his willful partner in the future. He’d insist on medical treatment whether Johnny liked it or not.

Cap came back several hours later. Roy was dozing in the chair next to Johnny’s bed… “Hey pal…?” Cap said, lightly shaking Roy’s shoulder. The blonde paramedic woke with a start. He glanced up at Captain Stanley and then his eyes flew to Johnny. His breathing was quieter but still raspy. Roy laid the back of his hand on Johnny’s forehead. The younger man stirred restlessly.

Kel came in a moment later, catching the familiar…almost parental gesture. Brackett and Hank exchanged a glance and a shake of the head at Roy’s obvious concern for his young partner.

“Roy…,” Kel greeted the senior paramedic.

“Cap…Doc…”

“How’s he doin?” Kel asked, nodding at Johnny.

“Fevers down a little and he’s been asleep for almost five hours now.”

“Roy how’d he get this bad anyway…?”

“I’m afraid that’s my fault…,” he said quietly. “I knew he was sick and I didn’t say anything…I didn’t know it was this bad though.”

“Well as to that…,” Cap muttered, “there’s plenty of blame to go around. I was pretty rough on him those first two shifts…he was afraid I’d come down on him if he called in sick, so he hid it.”

Kel shook his head at the fire Captain… “Don’t feel too badly about that Captain…Johnny’s pretty good at that.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Don’t worry Cap…Doc…I’ll be keepin a closer eye on him from now on.”

“Just signal me pal, I’ll order him in.”

“Don’t worry Cap, he’s a bit stubborn but I can handle him.”

“Roy…Johnny’s a grown man, you can’t be held responsible for what he does or doesn’t do,” Kel pointed out.

“Yeah Doc I can…I’m not only the senior partner here but I’m also his best friend… Even if he can be a bit of a nut sometimes…,” Roy shrugged with a grin. “It’s what friends do…they watch out for each other and he’d do it for me.”

Kel smiled back… “Ever consider another partner? You’d stay saner longer…” he teased already knowing the answer.”

Roy shook his head… “He may drive me crazy but I can’t imagine a different partner Doc…or a better one.”

“Thanks P…pally,” came a weak rasp from the bed behind them. They spun around to see tired dark eyes watching them.

“Hey Junior…how ya feelin…?” Roy asked.

“T’red…,” he murmured with a weak half grin. His eyes slid past his partner to rest on Captain Stanley and Dr Brackett. “Cap…Doc,” he greeted quietly.

“Good morning Johnny,” Kel replied as he moved to the bed to check the young man out. After taking his vitals he turned his attention back to the conversation. “What were you thinking John? You knew you were sick so why didn’t you tell me when you were here?”

“Y…you woulda stood me down,” John replied, casting a glance at Cap and stifling another cough.

“Your darn right I would have and with good reason.”

John’s eyes slid to Roy looking for help from his best friend.

“He’s right Junior…”

John didn’t reply but his eyes spoke volumes… ‘TRAITOR…,’ they shouted as a stubborn look crossed Johnny’s face and his mouth set into a willful pout. The three older men began to chuckle bringing a baffled look to John’s face as he glanced suspiciously between them. “And you think I’m nuts…,” he mumbled.

Cap moved to the other side of John’s bed. “Okay pal, I’m gonna try and avoid a lecture…,” Cap hesitated as a slight grin of relief crossed the young man’s face. “However…,” The grin faded. “Roy is now under direct orders to tell me if he thinks you’re in need of medical treatment in the future and so are you…GOT me?”

“Y…yes sir,” Johnny said in resignation.

 

Two weeks later, Cap stood staring at four members of his crew lined up in front of him. He had heard the frustrated bellow from the locker room a few minutes earlier. Chet, Marco and Mike stood grinning while Roy shook his head in annoyance. “He never learns…,” he muttered. Hank wasn’t sure if he was talking about Johnny or Chet.

He glanced at his watch…five minutes late already. His foot began to tap as he waited for his youngest crew member to make it to roll call. His first day back and Kelly couldn’t leave it alone. John would drive Roy insane for the rest of the day. Cap shook his head as he finally heard running footsteps and Johnny skidded into line next to his partner. Hair plastered to his forehead. He shot an ugly look at Chet.

“Sorry Cap…,” he mumbled.

“Let’s get started, shall we?” Cap suggested. “We’ll be going over a few drills this morning. Roy…John, I want you to check out the new safety equipment. The rest of us will be checking out some new hoses. Marco, why don’t you handle the apparatus bay pal? Mike you’re cooking, Roy Dorm… John, since you were late pal…”

Johnny winced… “Déjà vu,” he whispered aside to Roy. Chet was grinning broadly knowing what was coming.

“Why don’t you handle the rec room,” Cap finished.

John’s mouth dropped open in surprise and then a broad grin spread across his features. “Uh…sure Cap,” he said quickly.

“Uh…uh Cap…?” Chet was waving a finger to get Hank’s attention. “What happened to the last one in rule?”

“Well Chester B…since you’re the one who made him last in and to show up at roll call wet as well, I thought it was only fair that you clean up the mess you undoubtedly made in the latrine…don’t you…?” Cap asked giving him a hard stare.

“Um…sure…sure Cap,” Chet muttered.

Hank turned back to the young, dark haired paramedic… “Welcome home John.”

“Thanks Cap…”

 

THE END

 

 

The characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Mark VII Limited and Universal Studios. My thanks for allowing me to take them out to play from time to time… Italicized sections are excerpts from the Emergency Episode… ‘ Problem’ written by Preston Wood.

Published to Site 10/15/09

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The Characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Productions. No copyright infringement is intended or monetary gain made. I merely like to toy with them and return them to their proper owner in good working order.

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