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A shift was enjoying one of those rare days when dinner was proceeding without interruption. In fact, the whole shift had been quiet. The squad had completed the rechecks on several restaurants for safety code violations. The drills had been done before the engine was called out to assist on a MVA that had been more of a traffic nightmare than a medical /fire emergency. Of course, no one was mentioning the fact it had been an easy shift. No one wanted to jinx it.
Johnny had made dinner using a recipe from Lee. Since he had gotten married, he was becoming a good cook. Lee loved to cook and he liked hanging out in the kitchen and helping her. He had made dressing then rolled it up in a well beaten piece of round steak and baked it in a mushroom gravy. He made a salad and fixed frozen peas and carrots to go with it. Lee had sent in dessert, a lemon pudding cake. Even Chet could not find anything to complain a bout the meal.
"So you guys want to do something Saturday night?" Chet asked as they were just sitting around the table enjoying the end of the meal. "We haven't been bowling for awhile."
"Saturday sounds good to me…Em and the girls are going away on Mother daughter retreat with a group from church."
"Jo's mother is having a birthday party for her brother in law Sunday. Jo and the kids are going down on Saturday to help get ready for it.
"Think Melissa would be glad to get out of the house for awhile…I'll see if we can get a sitter." Mike added. "Don't think she can bowl but her and Lee could be score keepers." John appreciated the quiet engineer's thoughtfulness in thinking of a way Lee could be an active part of the group not just sitting back at the table watching.
"Saturday is fine with me…I'm helping my mom move boxes to the church for their garage sale next week end during the day.
"Want meet somewhere for dinner before we go?" Chet asked.
Sure." Johnny said as he began clearing the table. Clean up would be easy since he had had time to do the prep dishes. "Any place in mind?"
"Why not let the girls pick a place? There are some nice places near the bowling alley." Cap said. "Mike call Melissa and ask her to talk to Lee about where they would like to go for dinner Saturday night. Then she or Lee can make reservations if they need to."
The SCU tones out just as Roy and Johnny finished cleaning the kitchen,
"Squad 51 injured child…2424 Grant Dr. 2 4 2 4 Grant Dr. Cross Street Dunaway Rd. Time out 18:43."
"KMG 365." Cap responded as he handed Roy the slip of paper. The address was in a new sub division not far from the station. When they reached the home, a teenage boy was waiting by the curb.
"My sister and I are watching our cousins while our moms went shopping…Timmy was running and crashed into the end table…He has a cut on his forehead that’s bleeding a lot…" The boy told them as they got out the equipment.
"How old is he?" Roy asked as they went into the house.
"Three…my aunt says he is a little monkey always running and climbing on stuff…" The found a girl of 16 holding the three year old on her lap with a washcloth full of ice on his forehead. The little boy was crying not so much from hurting but because he wanted down to run around some more.
"Hey there, I'm Johnny and this is my partner Roy…What's your name?"
"Anne Marie…and he's Timmy. He was playing with our kitten and was chasing him…I put ice on his cut while Greg called you…" The girl was working hard at trying to keep from crying. "My aunt is gonna be so mad…We were watching him and the other kids and it just happen so fast…"
"I'm sure you were taking good care of him and you did exactly everything right." Johnny said as he took the squirming toddled from her. As he held, Timmy Roy cleaned the cut and did a quick assessment. ''Ann Marie do you know where your mom and your aunt were going shopping?"
"Keelson's I think."
"Johnny call there and have her paged…Anne Marie what is your aunt's last name?"
"Larson…Her name is Jean Larson." Johnny handed Roy the toddler and quickly dialed the number.
"Keelson's Market, how may I help you?"
This is John Gage…is your dad there…It's important Stevie."
"Yeah Johnny…" He heard the phone drop to the desk…"He is on his way…"
"This is Mark…you have a rush order Johnny?" The friendly voice greeted Johnny warmly.
"No but I do need you to page a Mrs. Jean Larson if she's still in the store…"
"She is…I was just talking to her. Is something wrong?"
"I need to speak to her please." Mark understood he was on duty.
"Just a second…" Johnny heard the click of a P.A. system being turned on. "Jean Larson please comes to the office…Jean Larson come to the office." Jean came to the office door looking confused. "You have a phone call."
"Mrs. Larson my name is John Gage and I'm an LA County paramedic…Don't panic …Timmy has a 3 inch cut on his forehead…The bleeding has stopped and he is very alert. Would it be possible for you to meet us at Rampart? He does to need a stitch or two."
"Of course…we'll be there soon as possible…Are you sure he is gonna be ok?"
"Yes ma'am…Right now he is trying to get down so he can go chase the cat.…" They hung up. Mark looked at the worried mother and smiled.
"If Johnny and Roy are taking care of him, Timmy's gonna be just fine."
"Miss Lee said they are the best…" Stevie added with a huge smile. "They helped me and dad when our car wrecked. Right Dad?'
"They sure did son, and Miss Lee is always right." He laughed as his son blushed.
"Yep…she is." Jean thanked them for the reassurance. She and her sister who had been listening in the doorway left.
"Come on Stevie let’s get their carts and check them out. We'll deliver them over to Ann Marie's house."
Roy had called Rampart on the biophone while Johnny had been on the land line. It was decided that Johnny would ride in with Timmy since the young boy seemed to be more still when Johnny was holding him. They had decided against even trying to get him to lie down on the gurney.
Johnny held the little boy and talked to him and generally kept him happy as they rode into the hospital. It was a pleasant uneventful ride and they had taken him into the treatment room when the mother and the aunt arrived. Dr. Brackett sent Johnny out to see if the mother was there yet.
Johnny heard the women asking about Timmy, went over, and introduced himself.
"Thank you so much for taking care of him …He can be a handful."
"He was fine…sat on my lap and played with my name tag on the way in….Your niece, Ann Marie and her brother did a good job of watching him and the others. Soon as he got hurt Ann Marie got ice on it and her brother called the fire department…They handled everything as well as an adult…Better than some I've seen."
"Thank you…I'm Annie, Ann Marie and Greg's mother. Thanks for telling me that the kids did good. I recognize you now…You shop at Keelson's. Stevie has a major crush on your wife. "
"That boy has excellent taste in the ladies. Stevie is a good kid…" Roy came in and Johnny introduced him to the women. "You have a good evening…"
A few minutes after they left Kel came out and talked to Jean telling her that Timmy had 4 stitches and was fine.
"Your paramedics made sure we knew he was ok and that the other kids at home were fine also when we talked with them on the phone. We appreciate that."
"We appreciate hearing that…and yeah they are two of the best." Kel said proud as always of "his" paramedics.
When they got back to the station, everyone was watching a movie and all was calm. Mike had talked to Melissa who was going to talk with Lee. Johnny has seen the movie and hadn't liked it the first time so he went out to the kitchen to call Lee. She answered on the second ring.
"You sitting on top of the phone?" He teased.
"Nawh just waiting for you to call…Missed seeing you today…Heard you all had a pretty nice day."
"Yeah we did…So you and Melissa decided where you'd like to go to dinner on Saturday?"
"There is a new place near the bowling alley that is supposed to have really good barbecue …Melissa said several of the girls from her play group have been there…She was going to check to see if they take reservations."
"So you don't mind spending Saturday night with this bunch? I know going bowling isn't whole lot of fun for you."
"I'll be with you, right? Then it will be fine…" They talked a few more minutes. " I love you…have good dreams."
"You too…see you in the morning. Love ya."
Johnny went back out to the day room but wasn't really interested in the movie so he got a puzzle book and went back out to the kitchen table. A half hour later Roy came in to the kitchen and sat down at the table.
"Everything ok?" Roy asked.
"Yeah fine…Roy did you ever think what it would be like if you had married someone else?" Not looking at Roy as he said it. Not really sure why he had said that and feeling ashamed as if it was a betrayal to Lee.
"No…JoAnne is the only person I ever really dated seriously." He frowned looking at his best friend and seeing a look of confusion in his eyes. "There isn't anything wrong between you and Lee is there?"
"No…Of course not." Shocked that Roy would even think that. " I can't really imagine being with anyone but Lee…She has been talking about maybe building a house. We more or less agreed to stay at the apartment at least a year…but lately she has looking at house designs. Maybe I should get serious about it too."
"Seriously? Gage you being serious is a joke." Chet said coming into the room. "You're serious when you're with a victim but the rest of the time….forget it." Chet said as he sat down at the table. "Now what are ya getting serious about?"
"None of your business. …Lee and Melissa said they want to try the new restaurant that is suppose to have really good barbecue."
"Yeah I heard that too…And that they do an awesome catfish and hushpuppy basket…Should be a good place to go."
The next morning before they left, they decided on a time to meet for dinner. When Johnny got to the apartment, Lee had a nice breakfast ready and they had a pleasant morning.
He was sitting on the balcony with a book but hadn't turned a page for awhile. She went out to him. "Honey, is something wrong?" She had been watching him wondering what he was thinking about.
"No just day dreaming I guess…Anything special you want to do?" He looked at her seeing the love and concern in her face. "Everything is fine…You know I think you get more beautiful each day…" He reached over and stroked her cheek softly. "And I realize how lucky I am… "
"The feeling is mutual my love….You know I'll always listen if you want to talk…and won't ask questions if you don't… The only thing I want to do to day is hang out with you…All the housework is done for the week…no pressing errands to run…and I made a cake last night after I got home from the store…We're having ham unless you have something else you'd like."
"With your au gratin potatoes?"
"Of course…and homemade rye bread…"
"If there isn't anything you need I think I'll go down and develop that roll of film I took last week end…and thanks…" He stood up stretching.
"For what?" She cocked her head and looked up at him.
"For just being you and letting me just be me…" She giggled as he bent down and kissed her.
"Haven't you figured it out yet? You just being you is my most favorite person in the world…Go develop the films."
Saturday after breakfast and a nice long shower for two they were both lost in a good book. Lee was on one of end of the couch her legs stretched out resting on Johnny's lap. Every so often not even realizing he was doing it he would reach down and rub her leg…the spot right at the end of her calf that had a tendency to go into muscle spasms. He was reading a western, she was reading Sci-Fi fantasy.
"Do you think someday we can go to England and Ireland? And Wales and Scotland?" she asked suddenly.
"I don't know I never thought about it…But if you were there I'd have a good time. But right now I am totally happy being here…What time do we have to be at the restaurant?"
"6 ---I think...I wrote it down on the board. You gonna take the pictures you developed last night? I really like the one of Jenny and Stacy playing fashion models…And the ones of the boys playing soccer were great too. If you ever decide you don't wanna be a paramedic any more you could be a photographer."
"It's a nice hobby but I can't see me not being a paramedic…at least for awhile."
"Until you and Roy decide to become captains? I can see you as captains but not engineers…especially not you…But that's in the future and the farthest future I am interested in right now is dinner and bowling."
Lee was in the bedroom changing for dinner. Johnny heard a crash and quickly went in to check on her. He watched her for a minute as she struggled to pull up on the edge of the bed. The books and a stack of mail that had been on the night stand was on the floor along with a broken glass. Her chair had been pushed away from the bed and was sitting backwards.
"Ya know if I stand here much longer we definitely will be late for dinner." She blushed but still did not smile. "You ok?" She hadn't put her shirt on yet and her slacks weren't quite up to her hips."
"No, I am a 23 years old adult. An adult should be able to go in and get dressed without a making a major production out of it…But not me…I knock everything on the floor and in a brilliant display of temper shove my chair so it goes off where I can't reach it…And you're standing there leering at me like …." She raised her hands in a gesture of defeat.
"Like I'd rather finish undressing you than help you get dressed?" He went over and sat down next to her, one hand gently stroking her cheek as the other went around her neck. "It's ok…I like helping you." He whispered in her ear before kissing her. "Now what do you need me to do to help…"
"I noticed you said need not want…If I said what I wanted we would never make it to dinner….and maybe not the bowling…" He kissed her again and she giggled before pushing him away. "Hand me the shirt that is over on the floor and help me get these jeans pulled up.…" He helped and they were ready on time. He was lifting her into her chair.
"So what did this poor chair do to deserve you shoving it?"
"I was pushing up to stand up and it moved…I knew the brakes needed to be tightened…Jake said they had a new travel chair coming out that is lighter and easier to fold…Maybe we need to go look at chairs…Said they were working on a design for a smaller electric chair…that by the time I need an electric chair they should be on the market."
"Girl, why didn't you tell me that earlier today?" He shook his head. "I could have checked it out and tightened the brakes."
"Because I didn't think about it until I went to get dressed…Besides I thought the way we spent the afternoon was perfect."
"What am I gonna do with you?"
"Kiss me and tell me you love me and take me to dinner." Lee said batting her eyes at him. "Ya know ya do."
"Yep I do…" He kissed her on the tip of her nose. "Come on lets go eat."
The restaurant was crowded but when she had called for reservations Melissa had told them 8 including a wheelchair. They were soon seated and having a lively debate over what year a movie had first came out.
"Towering Inferno and Earthquake both came out in '74." Lee insisted
"No they didn't …It had to be 72 or 73." Chet was just as certain. "I bet ya…"
"Chet you twit haven't you learned your lesson about betting against her?" Cap interrupted him. "Didn't you just buy $25 worth of toys for the playroom at Rampart?"
"I wanted to bet $5.00 He is the one who insisted on $25..." Lee said laughing. "I didn't wanna take advantage of the poor lad."
"You don't worry about taking advantage of me…I know I am right." Chet said with a smirk. "If I am right it’s another $10 for the playroom…if I'm wrong and your right then you owe the department toy fund $10.00."
Cap was heard to mutter twit and the others laughed as Lee agreed. "Tomorrow we'll find out that 74 are right…"
"And then you go to Mr. Lester's book store and tell him you need some books for the playroom at Rampart." Johnny smiled knowing that Mr. Lester gave the playroom a discount on books and often donated extra ones when he made a delivery there.
"Ahem, Lee didn't you tell me you and your uncle were friends with the guy that made the Towering Inferno? And that you went to the premiere with Jeff?" Roy said with a grin. He had seen the pictures in an album one night when Lee was looking for a picture to show Chris.
"Yep…Jeff's firm did work for several of the studios…I'd tag along." Chet groaned, he knew he had lost again.
"Are you ever wrong about anything?" Chet said as he handed Lee a $10 bill."
"Sure I am…but remember I'm the girl with the nerdy memory."
"Do you have to remember every stupid thing I've said?" Chet said looking a little worried.
"Kelly, even her memory isn't that good." Johnny could not let an opening like that slip by.
Everyone laughed and soon they were on their way to the bowling alley. They had been there several times, it was a nice friendly place. They were more family orientated than some of the larger bowling allies in the area. The guys who didn't have their own shoes got them from the desk and found balls they liked. Once they reached their assigned lanes Johnny lifted her out of the chair and carried her down to the scorekeepers' table. He sat her down and waited while she squirmed around until she was comfortable and secure in her balance.
"Thank you kind sir." She said with a nod. ""Do you ever get tired of all the bother I cause?" She asked softly. She could feel the people on the other lane watching.
"What bother? Want a soda? Melissa what would you like?"
"A coke please…" Melissa said as she sat down.
"Beers for you guys?" Johnny asked before he pushed the empty chair up to the desk where the manager safely stored it. His next stop was the concession window. "5 beers and 3 large cokes…" He got the drinks and made his way back to the lanes. Lee and Melissa had filled out the score sheets. It would be a straight score no handicap.
"Johnny, Cap and Mike are on lane 6 …Cap is up first." Melissa said after they had all had two warm up balls. The game was lively and the trash talks friendly. Roy and Johnny were both having good games. Marco and Mike were bowling their usual games but Cap and Chet were having bad games. Cap was getting eight and nine pins but not picking up spares. Chet's 6 or 7 pins a frame was giving him fits.
"Man I can't believe this…I'll be lucky to break 100 going like this…Who's bright idea was this any way?" Letting the others know the grumbling was all in fun Cap said as he left a pin standing.
"Beer round…"Chet announced. "Low score for the frame buys."
"Chet you're already in the hole for $10 to Lee can you afford to buy a round?" Johnny teased as he watched Mike and Marco both make strikes. Johnny got a strike and Roy a spare. Cap went up to the line and studied the pins and took his time lining up his throw.
Counting and concentrating he threw the ball and it was going down the lane perfectly then curved and knocked 3 pins over before dropping into the gutter. Cap muttered under his breath as he heard the men of his command struggling not to laugh at their captain. The word twirts was heard just as he released the ball…again it looked like a perfect shot but ended with a wicked curve…knocking over two pins.
Chet moved up to the line and smirked as he turned to the men behind him. "Sorry Cap…" He let go of the ball and soon as he did he knew it was a gutter ball. "OK Chester B shake it off …that was just a fluke…You can get a spare easily." Talking softly to himself he again approached the line looking at the pins with determination. Arm back keeping it straight , keep the wrist straight ….release perfect. The 10 pins fell as the foul buzzer went off. "Nooo" the sound that came out of his throat was pure pain as his friends dissolved in laughter. Chet trudged off to the concession window and ordered eight large cokes. It really didn't surprise anyone that Roy and Johnny tied for high score with 164.. Marco's 144 beat Mike's score by one point, Cap breathed a sigh of relief as Melissa announced he had 102. Chet just hung his head and cringed as his 62 was announced. Lee was good and did not say anything mean. She really was trying hard to get along with him. They bowled 2 more games and Chet's luck did get better and he broke 100 on those games. Cap won the last game by 2 pins when Johnny missed a spare leaving a nasty split.
Sunday was a nice peaceful day. Roy was working a half shift for Dwyer. While his mother in law took it as a personal insult it had been set up before she decided to have the surprise party for Jo's uncle. The first thing after breakfast Johnny checked and tightened the brakes on her chair and did some other maintenance on it. All in all it was a pleasant peaceful day.
Roll call was over and chores had been started when the vistor's doorbell rang . Mike answered the door then came back to the kitchen with three visitors. Mrs. Larson was holding Timmy and his aunt was holding a picnic basket.
"ONNY!" The three year old yelled and wiggled to get out of his mother's arms. Johnny grinned broadly as he took the little boy from his mom.
"How ya doing buddy? Your ouchie looks better…" Johnny turned to Cap and the others. "Timmy had a run in with the corner of the coffee table the other night," he explained. "Doc had to put in some stitches." He introduced Mrs Larson and her sister to Cap and the others.
We made pies for our family get together yesterday and while we were at it we made a couple of extra for you. Captain you should be very proud of these two. They not only took good care of Timmy but made sure my niece and nephew who was watching them were ok…and helped to keep the other children calm…And made sure when they contacted us we knew while there was a problem it was well taken care of and my baby was fine."
She looked at Timmy as he was again playing with Johnny's nametag. "It's hard when you get a phone call telling you one of your children has been hurt. Even when it's considered a minor injury."
"I understand that," Cap said with a smile. "And we appreciate your thoughtfulness …"
"There's a mixed berry and butterscotch…"
"Is it ok if I take Timmy into the day room so he can meet Henry? He's our station mascot."
"Oh Timmy would love that…And the butterscotch pie should go into the fridge…." They followed Johnny into the day room. Cap had Marco put the pies away and returned the picnic basket to the women.
The SCU toned out and Johnny quickly handed the little boy to his mother. After their squad had, left Mrs. Larson turned to Cap. "We won't take up any more of your time. They were so good with children." Meaning Johnny and Roy. "Do they have children of their own?
"Roy has a boy and a girl…Who have adopted John and his wife as aunt and uncle. John just got married last August."
"I've seen them at the grocery…she's a very pretty girl. It's clear they adore one another".
The squad pulled up in front of a log cabin type home that was back at the end of a 2 mile long lane. The small clearing was boarded with trees on 3 sides and a field planted with corn... There were six large dogs on chains that didn't look very friendly near the house and the lawn was over grown and trashed with beer cans , broken bottles and assorted junk.
"Hope those chains are as strong as they look…" Johnny said as he got the drug box out. Roy grabbed the biophone. Carefully they made their way to the door. The dogs were straining on the chains but they seemed to be holding. The dogs were less that a foot from the front door. Gingerrly they approached the door. Johnny pounded on the door, "Fire department." Knocking a second time, they heard a sound inside. The door was unlocked so they carefully entered the house. There were two dead dogs one laying near the door and the other by a broken table. Chairs were over turned and a trail of blood led into the next room. Calling out to identify themselves Johnny and Roy went into the smaller room. A man was lying on the bed, bloody towels wrapped around both arms and his leg. A gun was on the bed next to him.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Roy DeSoto this is my partner John Gage… We are paramedics with LA County Fire Department. Can you tell us what happen Mr.?"
"Ralph Morgan. Nate Masterson set his dogs on me…said my dogs killed his best hound. Hell, my dogs ain't been off their chains in a week… That hound of his ran into some coyotes or wolves…"
“Hold still…" Roy said as he was peeling back one of the bloody towels. Johnny was setting up the biophone. "You've got some pretty deep bites. They're going to need some stitches after they are cleaned out."
"Can you stitch them up?" The man asked as he watched their every move.
"I can clean them and treat them as the doctor orders but he'll have you transported into Rampart to get them stitched. We'll call the dispatch and have an ambulance sent out."
"Ain't going to any hospital…so don't bother calling any one ."
"Look if you weren't going to let us do our job why did you call us?" Johnny asked curious and frustrated at the same time. There was just something about this place making him very uneasy. Something more than the snarling barking dogs outside the door.
"You see any phone in here? Must have been Nate Masterson's kid…she probably figured if her old man came home alone I was hurt or dead. She used to be sweet on my boy…"
Roy and Johnny cleaned the wounds and bandaged as instructed after telling Rampart the injured man refused transport. Roy gave him the necessary papers to sign and they began loading up the equipment. As they were taking the equipment out Johnny was looking around trying to figure out what was making him so uneasy.
Something caught his eye out in the trees across the gravel driveway. It was a glare of light as if the sun was hitting something metal. Johnny yelled as he lunged at Roy, causing Roy to lose his balance as Johnny hit him. As he got to his feet, Roy saw the driver side window was shattered. The only noise he had heard was a whooshing sound and the dogs.. Johnny slumped against the squad with a blood on his face and shoulder. Roy heard several loud pings.
"Johnny…" No response as Roy carefully moved towards his best friend. He didn't want to draw any more attention from whoever or whatever was in the woods. He heard the whooshing sound then more pinging against the side of the squad. He got the passenger side door opened and carefully maneuvered Johnny into the seat, lying him down. He heard a loud noise and saw motorcycles taking off. Roy grabbed the drug and trauma boxes. He quickly took his pulse and respiration then checked his pupils. The bleeding on his head had stopped and the shoulder wound slowed. He got the oxygen and quickly slipped it on him after moving him into an upright position.. "Come on Junior…" He hit the radio.
"LA this is squad 51..." Putting several pads of gauze on the shoulder and tapping it in place
"Go ahead 51."
"I have a code I and am heading to Rampart Shots fired…Have a deputy meet us at Rampart…notify Rampart we are on our way in."
"Sheriff's office has been notified…Will contact Rampart."
"10-4" Roy drove carefully along the rutted lane trying to watch the road, watch out for possible attacks and keeping an eye on his partner. He would be much happier once they reached the highway. As he pulled onto the highway, he had a CHP escort. In the rear view mirror, he saw deputy cars turning into the lane. He quickly picked up speed and prayed that other drivers would pay attention to the lights and sirens.
He saw Dixie and Kelly Brackett waiting with a gurney as he pulled up to receiving. He knew who ever was in the CHP cruiser must have called in to let them know how close they were. They quickly got Johnny into the building. Dr. Brackett was giving orders as they wheeled Johnny into the treatment room. Roy had told him that as far as he knew Johnny had only opened his eyes once but he had not been able to keep as close of eye on him as he would have liked on the drive in.
"I had to get him out of there …didn't want whoever was shooting coming back…"
"You did the right thing… It wasn't going to do John any good if you got shot too… " Malcolm came in with the X ray unit and they went out into the hall. "Do me a favor…go up and talk to Lee before any of the gossips get up there…"
"Look, we'll take care of your partner…Right now he needs you to take care of Lee for him." Kel and Dixie knew of the promise Johnny had gotten Roy to make…that if there was ever a choice between helping him or Lee, Lee would always come first.
"You're right…Doc, there wasn't any sound…Johnny just pushed me down and then …" He ran his hand thru his hair…"There was all this blood and a broken window…Johnny never made a sound…"
As he was waiting for the elevator he heard his name being called he looked up and there was CHP Officer Barry Baricza, or has his friends called him Bear.
"How is he?"
"Still unconscious…Brackett wanted me to go tell Lee. "
"Want some back up? " Bear said as the elevator doors opened. "I just happen to be near by when the shots fired call went out…Didn't know it was you guys until I saw you coming out of that lane."
"Has any one called to let you know if they found anything?"
"No but I'm sure they will…the sheriff's department was going to go investigate." They walked down to Lee's office in silence. The door to her office was closed but the happy face please enter sigh was on the door. Stacy had made that sign for Lee when she had moved her office there, Before going in Roy turned it over to the sad faced stay out sign.
Lee looked up from her paper work hoping it was Johnny. He and Roy often came up between runs or after supplies but never abused the privilege. (The only complaints had been from Brice and from Kevin Richards and both had been told to mind their own business by the powers that be.) Lee saw the two friends and her blood ran cold.
"Is he…?" She could not bring herself to say the word. "Roy…Tell me?"
"He's hurt…but he 's alive…Doc is with him and Dixie…Wouldn't surprise me if Dr. Early isn't in there too…Kel didn't want you hearing rumors…" The color was slowing returning to her face. She took a deep breath and gave the two men a weak smile. "Better go check on me boyo…Bear did you know we're going on vacation with the Desoto's? He's taking me surfing in Hawaii just like on our honeymoon…Isn't that right, Roy?' Her voice broke and the tears came. "Right?"
"Yeah we're all going to Hawaii…" His voice was calm for her sake but his emotions were running high. "Let me push you ok?" He knew she hated having anyone other than Johnny push her.
"Yeah I think that would be a good idea…Bear please set the code when you shut the door. Nell isn't here today…"
"Sure sweetie." He looked at Roy who told him the numbers 7751...
When they got down stairs Roy called the station while Bear sat with Lee. (Bear had called in for his lunch break to spend time with her.)
"Station 51 Captain Stanley speaking." He had been waiting for this call since dispatch had called and McConnikee had also called to tell him the squad was stood down as the police would need it for the investigation and then it would need repairs. He had also said that they would be sending in a replacement squad and two substitute paramedics.
"Cap its not good. I'm waiting for Dr. Brackett to come out and talk to us…"
"While you're waiting can you go out and get the drug box and the biophone and whatever else they'll need for a replacement squad? The sheriff's department wants to tow 51 into the police yard as soon as possible…When the replacement squad and paramedics get here I'll send them over to pick up the stuff. And they'll be someone over to talk with you…"
"No problem, I can store it in here at the base station…"
"Any idea how he is ? Do you want me to have Emily come stay with Lee? Or her friend Kathy?"
"…Bear is here with us right now…Doc sent me out of the room when they took the xrays and had me go up and talk to Lee…She's pretty numb right now…He was unconscious when we got here…pretty much the whole time…Just did a grab and run…Had to get him out of there without taking the time for a lot of care…"
"You did the right thing Roy…You had no way of telling why or how many there were…"
"Yeah I kept telling myself that …"
"Call here if you need us…Did you call Jo?"
"No not until I have something more to tell her…"
"Ok Pal, just keep us informed."
It was another 15 minutes before Kel and Dixie came out of the treatment room. He looked around and spotted the three off in a corner. This was the most serious injury Johnny had received since he and Lee had known each other. Kel was not looking forward to telling her how serious it was. Roy and Bear stood up as Dixie and Kel walked towards them. Dixie sat down beside Lee. Kel stood in front of her his arms crossed over his chest.
"Why do I feel like you're God looking down on me about to send me to Hell? " Lee asked quietly. "Are you gonna destroy my life again?"
"No…What I have to tell you isn't the best news but it's not going to destroy anyone's life. His collar bone is broken and there are some serious bruises…more than just the soft tissue, these are deep bone bruises . He has some bruising on his chest and his ribs are gonna be sore for a while. We found a ball bearing imbedded in his shoulder right below the joint but the joint is not damaged…and one in the fleshy part of his arm. He has a severe concussion and we are watching for any increase in swelling or bleeding."
"A ball bearing? HOW? WHY? All he ever wanted to do is help people …why would someone want to hurt him?"
"An air cannon…seems to be a favorite new toy of some of the local gangs and drug dealers," Bear said. "They load them with everything from rock salt to broken glass and rusty nails…"
"And I think that hose jockey of yours was luckier than it sounds. I would hazard a guess that Johnny was hit by ricochets rather than full force."
"Ricochets off of what? And why didn't I hear them?" Roy asked still confused.
"Can I see him?" Lee asked not really caring how he got hurt just caring that he got better.
"We are going to heavily sedate him…I don't want him moving around a lot. He is going to have some major pain and I don't want him straining those ribs and muscles throwing up. ."
"Deep bone bruises are worse than breaks…they hurt like bloody hell and there is nothing you can do about it. At least with a break you can cast it and protect it." Bear and Roy looked at her surprised. "When the doctors thought I could learn to walk again they had me using a walker…After I fell for the third or fourth time they decided that wasn't going to work…I had deep bone bruises on my foot, ankle, one knee and my wrist plus 2 cracked ribs from that little experiment and a doctor's ego trip."
Dixie looked at her and shook her head knowing exactly what Lee was doing. Being totally detached and analytical…one of her favorite defenses mechanisms. She had seen it when Jeff had got shot when they were dating.
"Lee, Johnny is gonna need you to help him through that pain once we let him wake up…Its going to be a good 6 weeks before he is back to work…so you need to focus on that…his getting better…Can you do that?"
"Yes…for …by the time he is awake enough to know what I'm thinking I'll have myself ready to be cheerful and supportive.….Right now let me be scared and afraid and mad…Ok?"
"Do you want us to call anyone?"
"No not right now…now I need some time with me boyo alone…except for Roy …" She smiled "You need to grab something to eat and get back on duty, Bear…thank you…for everything." He bent down and kissed her and she whispered in his ear, "They might think you're a grizzly but I know you're a teddy bear." He laughed as he stood up and left.
Dixie and Kel went back into the treatment room and Roy stayed with her. She could see he wanted to tell her something and she had a good idea what it was. "You know he told me about the promises you two made." Roy had stopped pacing and sat down next to her again.
"That he would do his best to see that you went home safe to Jo and the kids every shift….and the one you made to him when George South was ….stalking us…That if it was a choice between him and me you'd look after me. I know you want to be in there with him…People think just because we laugh and tease we don't have serious talks…They don't understand… we know the ….we know the value of the laugher and the good fun …and that it can end too suddenly…But not now…its not gonna end now." Her eyes were pleading with him to tell he everything was going to be alright and he would be good as new in few days. Her head knew it wasn't going to be a few days but weeks before he was good as new. However, her heart needed to believe it would be ok now.
"He heard or saw something…you know that internal radar of his…and pushed me down."
"Would you expected anything less from him? I wouldn't…."
Before Lee went into his room she had it together. She had seen him in the hospital other times but never like this. He was so quiet and still …and so pale. The long dark eye lashes against the pale skin accented each other. The mechanical hissing and the pulsating of the machines made it all seem like something out of the Sci/Fi books. She had visited Jeff when he had been shot several times but never remembered it being this frightening. Roy stood back and let her take it all in. She moved as close as it was possible for her to get.
"My darlin' boyo…you don't look much like a raggled taggled gypsy right now…more like a sleeping angel…You rest and dream peaceful healing dreams…and know that I love you with all my heart…" She laid her hand on the bed. "Kel said I can stay until 10…Roy is gonna stay all night…you won't be alone…never alone…Bear was here for you but he had to go back to work…but he said he'd be back.…" She looked over to Roy. "If you all want to go to Hawaii in two weeks that'll be fine but I don't think we'll be going then…I know the kids are really excited about going and don't want to disappoint them"
"We'll wait until we can all go just like we planned…The kids wouldn't want to go without their Uncle Johnny…or Aunt Lee." He smiled at her trying so hard not to cry and to reassure him she didn't blame him. "You know you can be human…No one expects you not to cry or be scared."
"Not in front of him…He said he never wanted to be the cause of me crying again. We did amend that to sad tears because I cry as much when I'm happy…and he makes me very happy." She leaned forward and brushed his hand lightly. "You know I fell in love with him that first meeting…That smile of his…and the way his eyes were laughing…But even then I could see the sadness behind the laughing…"
"That sadness is pretty much gone thanks to you…After a bad run I'll see it but once he talks to you it’s not as bad. I think he started falling that day it just took him a little longer to figure out what he was feeling…"
"The other day he was thinking about something and they didn't look sad exactly but far away…I figured he would tell me what he was thinking about when he was ready."
"Yeah Junior usually tells one if not both of us what he is worried about or trying to figure out…"
"Roy…don't tell him but I'm scared…what if when he comes home I can't take care of him?"
"Lee, when he comes home if you are uneasy taking care of him hire someone…just like when you fell…"
"The last nightmare he had was about me falling and George hurting me…which is kind of ironic since I've been having nightmares about you two getting hurt and it being my fault."
"Neither one of you was to blame…" Roy said. "Look, I'm gonna go get some coffee…anything you want?"
"No but there is some good ham salad and chicken salad and cold cuts up in the office…Mick brought supplies for you all today…go get something to eat…I'll be fine honest…And you need to talk to Jo. If nothing else to explain why our vacation is postponed…And maybe when you come back you could bring the Dragon book.. I'll read it to him…Dragon Song…I can see him as a dragon rider can't you? Fighting Thread…using the dragon's fire to save the world? Always a hero…You know you can tell me to shut up…I'm talking to cover up the sounds of those machines…Go on…go…please for a little while.''
"Ok I'm going up to your office."
He had not been gone very long when Dixie came in. Lee was sitting there talking to Johnny about their honeymoon and the adventures they had on the Tiki and on the private island…and whatever else came to her mind. Lee had no idea she was there.
"…and remember how Clay laughed when he found out that you'd carried me up the gangplank thrown over your shoulder? He didn't know I had dared you to do that and thought I'd be mad?….And all the flowers the little girls gave us? The orchids and hibiscus? They were pretty but not near as pretty as my faerie roses you give me…Poor Hector he would be upset if he knew I knew George killed my faerie rose…he worked to find another one so I wouldn't know…That patch of ground will be toxic for a long time I think…Do you think the others would be shocked if they knew I went swimming topless in the little pool by the waterfall? Think Chet would have called me a cold fish then?…I know you can't open your eyes now because of the medicine…But I want you to know I'm here…" Her hand was on top of Johnny's and she was lightly making little circles on it. "And there will always be someone with you…me or Maria or Hector or …" She stopped talking as the tears flowed down her face. Dixie went and put a hand on her shoulder. "You need a few minutes outside?"
"Dix, he looks so pale and like such a little boy…so quiet…Kel is telling me everything right? He wouldn't lie to me?"
"Now do you think he wants you throwing a bed pan at his head? I'm sure your aim has improved since you were 17..."
"That jerk deserved it… " Smiling and getting back in control. "I did pretty well at not crying most of the time I was talking to him…"
"I 'm sure you did…Sounds like you two had a great trip…"
"Yeah we did…Wish we could have stayed on that island forever and played in that waterfall…"
"Water rescues aren't his favorite but I'm guessing with you he didn't mind being in the water…"
"You know me…I love the water…Jeff said I could swim before I could walk… And look at me now…I swim like a fish and some days I feel like a fish out of water…just struggling to move on dry land."
"Well, you are the warmest blooded fish I ever met." Dixie said her hand on Lee's shoulder.
"How long were you standing there?" Lee blushed a little. "He taught me it was ok to be me…I still wonder if I will ever totally understand why he loves me but I never doubt that he does."
"And the why doesn't matter…but I’d say he loves you for you…why do you love him?"
"Because he is Johnny…that’s just the best answer I can give…There are so many reasons. I just told Roy I fell in love with him that very first day…"
"I think it was mutual." She checked the readings and gave Lee a reassuring look. "The numbers are good…"
Roy fixed a sandwich, which he really did not want but knew he needed to eat. His head was aching and he knew he had to eat before he took anything. He got a soda and called Jo.
Soon as she heard his voice, she knew something was wrong. "Where are you?"
"Rampart…Johnny got hit by some ball bearings shot out of an air cannon…Doc said he has severe concussion and a broken collar bone…Some serious bruises…Lee is with him now."
"Do you need me down there?"
"No not tonight…maybe tomorrow when the kids are in school…Lee was worried about the kids being disappointed if we didn't go to Hawaii . Told her we would go when we all could go just like we planned. "
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah he pushed me out of the way…Lee sent me up to her office to get something to eat…I better get down there. …Talked to Cap and I am off duty. McConnikee figured after being shot at and with Johnny here I wasn't gonna be concentrating too well."
"He's probably right…Call me if you need anything? And give Lee and Johnny my love."
"I will, love you Babe," he said feeling a little better after talking with her. He grabbed two cans of soda and the book from her desk. When he went she was just sitting there her eyes closed her hand on his. She was humming a song Roy did not recognize. That was one thing Lee and Johnny hadn't been on the same page with when they had first met. Johnny liked the basic rock and roll and country music. Lee liked the British invasion, big bands, Broadway, soft jazz, ballads and folk music. Now when you were over at their apartment you never knew what was going to be on the radio or the stereo. The stereo was usually a mix of his and hers. It was just another way they embraced each others differences, likes and dislikes.
"Was Jo upset about the trip being postponed?" She took the soda from him. "Thank you."
"No she was concerned about you and Johnny. She sent her love."
"Guess I should go call Hector…I know I can't drive tonight…"
"That’s a good idea.
"Ok I am going to go call …and probably get yelled at..."
"Now do they ever yell at you? "
"Not really but they still treat me like I'm 16 sometimes. But when I think back about how I acted when I was 16 I should have been yelled at more."
"Like going skydiving?"
"Yeah but if I hadn't done it that day I would have never gotten to do it…Don't put off doing something till later…If there is ever a trip or an experience you want for you or your family…do it…don't worry about the expense that’s no problem. The problem is living with regrets. The only thing that money I inherited is good for is doing for the people I love…It should have been shared with people I loved in the first place…"
She looked at him and shrugged and went out to the pay phone in the waiting area.. Roy was always amazed at how she thought and rationalized her thinking.
Lee dialed the number trying to plan what she wanted to say.
"Alvarez residence." Hector sounded as if he had been taking a nap.
"It's me. I need a ride home about 10:00..."
"Where are you? What is wrong?" He heard the tiredness and fear in her voice. "Are you alright?"
"I'm tired..I'm at Rampart Johnny…He has a head injury and some bad bruises…A broken collar bone… He's heavily medicated…Roy and I have been with him. Kel is kicking me out at 10 but Roy can stay."
"One of us will stay with you tomorrow while Roy gets some sleep…How did it happen?"
"They hurt him on purpose…They shot at them with air cannons…They go to help someone and they hurt him…" She had come to the phone in the hall for a reason. If she went up to her office and had privacy, she would fall apart. In public she had to stay strong…she couldn't give in to the urge to cry and scream. "I'm going back in…Love ya."
The time passed slowly as they sat in the room watching Johnny sleep. They talked some but neither really felt like it. Lee would read to Johnny then pass the book to Roy. Her hand was always near his. Once the nurse came in and repositioned Johnny so his hand was out of her reach. As soon as the nurse left Roy went over and moved his hand back to where Lee could touch him. She nodded her thanks. Kel and Dixie both stopped in before going home. Lee looked at the clock and at 5 till 10 let out a deep sigh.
"I hate leaving you here…" She looked over at Roy who was almost asleep. "But Roy is here so you won't be alone…and I will be back in the morning soon as I can…I love you my boyo…" She looked over at Roy who had opened his eyes. "Help me stand up please…" with support she stood up and leaned over and kissed Johnny on the forehead. "Peaceful dreams." She had just sat down when Cisco and Hector came in.
"Come on Little one, its time to go." Cisco said as he took hold of the wheel chair. "Dad is taking her car home…One of us will bring her back in the morning and stay with her so you can get some sleep. I think ma wants her to sleep down stairs tonight but if she doesn't they'll keep the intercom on."
"Don't talk about me like I'm not sitting here please…and I don't think your dad can drive my car…but we could stop by the station and get the rover."
"We will get the rover in the morning…Now we just need to take care of you." He turned to Roy. "Call us if you need anything…And we will be here early in the morning I'm sure. And thank you for being here for them."
"That's what family does…She drank some juice but wouldn't eat…"
"That doesn't surprise me…Ma'll take care of her."
Lee didn't say much as they went out to the car and Cisco lifted her in and fastened her seat belt. Once they got to the house, Cisco carried her into the apartment. Hector brought her chair in. Cisco sat her down in the recliner. Maria came into the room with a cup of tomato soup. She handed it to Lee.
"Drink it and then we will talk…" She looked at Lee who just nodded. "Cisco you and your father make sure she drinks that while I go upstairs and get things ready…You are going to shower then off to bed after you take a pain pill. And the intercom will stay on, is that understood?"
"Yes ma'am…" Lee smiled it was nice to have someone else take charger at least for a little while. She was exhausted and her back and legs did hurt. Forty-five minutes later Lee was in bed and almost asleep. Maria stayed up with her until she was sure settled. Maria looked in once last time before going down stairs . Lee was fast asleep holding onto Johnny's pillow.
Dr. Brackett went into Johnny's room the first thing the next morning. Roy was asleep in the chair his head buried in his arms folded on the edge of the bed. He touched his friend's shoulder lightly. Roy was instantly awake. "Morning."
“Hard to tell time in here…" Roy answered as she stood up and stretched. "They seemed pleased when they were in here about 5...said his breathing was more relaxed…"
"They started decreasing the sedation at midnight…The numbers are looking better…His blood pressure is about normal for him…Did Lee leave at 10?"
"Yeah Cisco and Hector came and got her…They gonna go get the Rover this morning…They may have left her car here…They said they'd be back this morning so I can go home and get some rest…"
"Go, he is doing fine and it'll be early afternoon I'd guess before he is completely awake …We'll do another X ay to check on the swelling."
"I will soon as they get here…Knowing Lee I'm surprised she isn't here already."
"She's on her way…Maria made her eat and do her exercises before she'd let anyone bring her…I got a call just as I walked in the door.
Linda dropped Cisco off at Station 51. He went to the firefighter's entrance and knocked. He had talked to Hank earlier on the phone so they were expecting him. He followed Cap into the kitchen and accepted the cup of coffee he was offered. B shift was slowly gathering in the kitchen as well as Johnny's crewmates.
"Any word from the hospital?" Cap voiced the question on everyone's mind.
"Lee talked to Kel …the numbers looked good over night. Dad is taking her and Ma over there and after I drop the rover off and pick up Ma's car I'll go over. The DEA agent I know pretty well is gonna keep me in the loop…They were lucky the shooters weren't more accurate…The side of the squad is pretty well dented…There are some on the roof and back end…Morgan and Masterson are both under arrest…Morgan's corn field was very productive…he had a nice pot crop about ready to harvest. The sheriff's department and DEA have some leads to the bikers they were working with but nothing anyone is saying out loud."
"Tell your mom that me and Emily will be over later this afternoon…and we can set up some kind of time line for people being there with her."
"Good because Lee is bound and determined he won't be alone… She promised him he would never be alone when he was hurt or sick again…No one on is going to give her any grief on that except maybe my mom. And you know that girl won't fight fair where he is concerned."
"She proved that didn't she back in February?" Cap couldn't help but laugh.
"You all just laughed when I said she was a hell cat…I've been on the receiving end of that temper a few times. You think they are kidding when they tease her about throwing a bed pan at that stupid …so called doctor ? She may have missed but not by much…" He finished his coffee. "The DEA is asking for me to come back and work some for them. Wasn't gonna but I think now it’s getting a little personal…May just have to rethink that no."
"Don't let it get to personal…you guys need Rule #1 just as much as we do." Cap reminded him.
"They made it personal when they hurt my family…" He put his coffee cup in the sink. So you keep an eye out for them for me…Not sure what the DEA is gonna have me do but they did tell me not to shave for the next few days…and asked if I still had my leathers…"
Lee stopped at the ER nurses station before going upstairs. Dixie was just coming out of a treatment room.
"Did you see him this morning?" Lee asked. "They said he was resting comfortably when I called about 6. Has Kel seen him?"
"Kel is planning on going up there soon as he finishes in 4...I saw him just a few minutes before I came on duty…He was sleeping and all the numbers looked good."
"We're going up…"
The nurse at the desk smiled as Lee and Maria went past her. She had seen Lee up there before and didn't bother to ask any questions. Roy was asleep in the chair by his bedside. His hand was resting on the bed. His head came up and he rubbed his face as they came farther into the room. "Morning."
"Morning. I heard he had a good night." She reached out to Roy and squeezed his hand tightly. "Thank you…I got some good rest because I knew you were here with him. Now you go home and rest and enjoy your time with your family."
"You two are part of that family. You should know that by now." Roy said as he watched his sleeping partner. He stood up and stretched.
"We do…and…He would be really unhappy if you didn't go get some rest and spend time with them. We will be ok…honestly.
"Jo and I 'all be by later…then I can come back and spend the night…Pretty sure the others will be around sometime today…You call if…"
"I will call if anything else…Give Jo and the kids our love." He stood by Johnny and gave his uninjured shoulder a squeeze. "Behave yourself , Junior." He brushed his bangs back .
He kissed Lee lightly and gave Maria a hug before slowly moving out.
Maria helped her position her chair and then after giving Johnny a gentle kiss on the forehead she handed Lee the book she was reading to Johnny. "I'm going up to your office and give Nell your message then I will be back…You have everything you need?"
"For now…I'll read to him and hopefully he'll wake up…" Her hand was on his that Maria had placed outside the covers so she could reach it.. "His color is better…" Maria left knowing that right now what Lee needed most was time with him.
"Ya know, I think I understand some of the things we have talked about better now. Even when I was scared I knew what I needed to do…What you wanted me to do…Roy and Jo will probably be here later tonight…and the other guys I would guess…You should be We'll still go to Hawaii the 5 of us but not until you are well and can enjoy it too…I love you my boyo…Remember me laughing at you on the Tiki when you had on those ragged cut offs and a bright bandanna around your hair all wet from the sea spray? That was the first time I called you a raggled taggled gypsy…My darling boyo … darlin' open your eyes and smile for me?" She waited but there was no response so she opened the book and began reading.
She had been reading to him for about 15 minutes when Kel came in. He stood at the door and listened to her read and carry on a conversation. "Sounds like an interesting book."
"Yeah we like it…Its part of a series." He came in, read over the chart, and checked his vitals. " He should be waking up soon...The numbers all look better…You here by yourself?"
"No Maria is up in the office talking to Nell and giving us some time alone."
"You keep reading and talking to him and I'd guess he'll be talking back to you before long." He started out the door. "Don't forget to take care of yourself."
"I won't…I have to be able to take care of him…with some help from our friends." Lee said knowing it was true. She didn't have to do it all…no one except herself expected her to do it all. It was ok to need help. "John Roderick Gage, you teach me so much about myself …How come you know more about how I feel than I do some days?" With a sigh, she began reading again.
Johnny could hear the nurses and hospital sounds as if they were in a tunnel but none meant anything to him. It was warm and comfortable where he was even if someone did stick him every so often it really didn't hurt, it was just annoying. He liked listening to the story about the dragon riders. Lee's voice was warm and comforting and he liked the soft touch of her hand on his. It was just all so peaceful. The reading stopped and he felt her hand move away from his. Was she going to leave him? She promised she would not go.
Maria came back in with a soda. "I'm going to go back up to your office. If you need me, call. I have a good book and that sofa you have up there is more comfortable and quieter."
"Why don't you go on home? I am fine and he is doing as well as we can hope right now…Cap and the others will be here sometime this afternoon…Please…I know you had plans."
"No plans are more important than you two."
"I know how important your work at the church is to you and getting things ready for the festival there is important…they need you."
"Ah, when did you grow up on me?"
"Slowly but you have taught me that even as a grownup I still need the love and support of my family…But also that I need to be strong and not doubt my abilities to take care of myself and my darlin'…"
The next half hour she read to him and talked to him about everything she could think of. She noticed his eye lashes moving as if he was trying to open them. "John Roderick open your eyes and smile at me…I know you can hear me…Please …Soon as you wake up your friends can come visit."
"EE?" His throat and mouth were so dry "Dr…in…k" He opened his eyes slightly.
"I'll call the nurse." Frustrated she could not give him the water he asked for. Pushing the call button."
Someone will be here soon…"
The nurse stuck her head in the door. "Yes?"
"He is awake and wants some water…also would you please let Dr. Brackett know."
She gave Johnny a few sips of water then went to have Dr. Brackett paged. "I love you …thank you for that wonderful smile." Lee told him after the nurse left.
"Love you too." His eyes were closing. "Roy?" He couldn't remember what happen but he knew Roy had been with him when he got hurt. "K?"
"Yes…he was here all night and went home to sleep…You pushed him and he wasn't hurt…"
"I know it's hard but can you stay awake until Kel comes in? I can read some more."
"'Bout dra …gon…s"
"Well it's nice to see you awake…How do you feel?" Kel looked down at his young friend.
"Tired…my head hurts…thirsty…" Johnny said slowly as he thought about it. "If I move my head the room spins… My shoulder aches."
"Sounds about normal for the type of injuries you have…You have a severe concussion and a broken collar bone and assorted bruises. A few days in here then home and rest…" He wrote on the chart.
"And it’s on the chart someone will be with him as long as we feel it’s necessary? No arguments."
"None from me," Kel said seeing the fire in her eyes. "I think that is a good idea…we want you to rest as much as possible."
Twenty minutes later was sleeping. She was reading when Cap and Emily came in about 2 hours later.
"How is he?" Cap looked down at his sleeping friend thinking he looked like he was about 12 years old. "Has he been awake at all?"
"For a little while. They gave him something mild for pain and they changed the bandages. He has some bad bruises …They put something in the IV to help keep him from throwing up…" She had reached over and taken his hand. "He is gonna be home in a few days." She looked over at the small doorway to the bathroom. "Emily would you mind coming with me? I need to go down the hall." This was an end room and for some reason was slightly smaller than some of the private rooms. Lee knew once she was in the ladies room she would be fine getting into the handicapped stall but the door into the restroom on this floor were heavy and hard for her to open by herself. The hospital was slowly remodeling to make things easier for people with disabilities but this floor hadn't been changed yet.
When they returned to the room Marco, Mike and Chet were there. Lee greeted them and moved back next to the bed, her hand on his.
"Roy and Jo'll be over in awhile. Jo said to tell you she'll take you home when visiting hours are over," Mike said.
"Me too?" They all jumped when they heard the whispered comment. Cap poured some water and held the glass to his lips after positioning the straw. Johnny took several small sips then flashed a grateful smile.
"In a few days luv. Kel said at least 3 days in here." Johnny looked disappointed at that news.
"Man Gage, you find some of the strangest ways to get hurt," Kelly said as he stood at the foot of the bed. "Nice shiner…one of the more colorful ones I've seen lately."
"Dunn's know hh…ad itt." Lee looked worried at the slight slurring in his speech but didn't say anything. She knew he was still severely concussed.
"You need anything before we go? Dixie said we could only stay a few minutes today…" Marco asked. "Mama said to tell you when you go home she will be bringing some food over…That Lee will be so busy fussing over you she won't have time to cook."
"Tell her I said thank you…" Lee had grown very fond of Mrs. Lopez as had Maria.
After the three crewmates left Cap and Em stayed and talked to Lee as Johnny drifted back to sleep.
"If there is something you need to do or somewhere you need to be we'll be fine. The nurses are really good about answering the call light."
"We're doing what we need to do and what we want to do…You and John are family…I thought we had that all settled?"
"Yeah we did, but things have a way of getting unsettled…at least for me…when I get so panicked and scared…Its not others I doubt but myself…Johnny teases me about my memory…but there is a down side to it…you never forget things you should." She let go of Johnny's hand and moved around slightly trying to ease her hip. When she let go of his hand Johnny opened his eyes and turned his head towards her.
"You ok?" Turning his head slowly so he could see her more clearly.
"Yes …would you like a drink?" She asked as she saw him lick his lips. Hank gave him the cup after putting fresh water in it. "Easy…"
"Not sure he knows what that word means…Junior likes keeping us on our toes doing it the hard way." Jo shook her head at her husband then went over and gave Johnny a kiss on the cheek. She sat a package down on the tray table.
"Don't pick on him…wait till he can defend himself, right sweetheart?" Jo said smiling at him. "I called Kel and he said I could bring you some chicken and rice soup as long as it was mostly broth…Thought you would like that better than the hospital food."
"Thanks." Lee was relieved that his speech was clearer and he seemed more alert. "You eat?" He looked at Lee raising his eyebrows.
"I will later." She answered hoping he would accept that. "Roy'll help you with the soup, won't you?"
"Of course…While he's eating why don't you go up to your office or down to the cafeteria?" Lee gave him a dirty look and Johnny smiled knowing his friends would take good care of her.
"Em and I'll go with her…" Hank said taking a hold of her wheel chair. "We'll take good care of her for you."
"I love you and you behave for these two…" she said trying to be upbeat and not cause him to worry.
"You need to learn to be ambidextrous. Ya know that Junior." He was opening the thermos of soup. ""So now that she is out of the room how do you really feel?"
"Tired. My head hurts and my shoulder aches…but the stuff they gave me for my stomach helped…She ok?"
"Yeah she's good…No talking eat." While Roy helped him eat Jo told him all about the kids and what they had been doing. Jen had made him a get well card and promised soon as they would let her she'd come visit.
Once they were out in the hallway, Hank stopped "Your office or the cafeteria?"
"My office…I don't want to talk to anyone." Lee said with a shrug. "I should be the one in there helping him…"
"Are you going to have what Roy calls a Gage rant?" Trying to get her to calm down and knowing she would if he could only get her to laugh. "I heard you can out rant him if you're upset enough." He smiled at her letting her know it was ok to vent.
"Hank you know I love you and Emily dearly but I need to be alone right now…I really don't feel like being around people right now….I’m angry and frustrated and …"
"That is all the more reason you need to be with someone right now…Don't you think he can read you like a book? Get it out of your system now and then go back in there and be what he needs you to be." Hank said very Captain like, like it was an order to one of his men. As he was talking, he was pushing her towards the elevator.
"This is a test you know…one of the cruel tests the Fates give us poor morals to amuse themselves. They love seeing us fail that is what makes them feel so superior. I have failed at so many things now the challenge isn't to see if I'll fail but how badly." They were in the office alone. Emily was making her a sandwich. Hank had lifted her out of the chair onto the sofa.
"What happen to all that positive energy you had a while ago," Hank asked amazed at how fast she had changed. She was reminding him of a teenage drama queen.
"She is saving it for when she has to be cute and bubbly and pretend her heart isn't breaking seeing someone else take care of her Johnny." Emily said as she handed her a plate of food. "I saw the look on your face when Hank handed him that water and when you had to ask Roy to help him with the soup. It tore your heart out and it showed on your face. And you knew it that’s why you didn't protest more when we took you out of there. You did not want John to see you so angry. Knowing his misguided sense of guilt he would have assume it was something he did. Now eat so you can go back down there and be what he needs you to be…strong and supportive."
"Well the only problem is I haven't done very well at either of those things lately…Just some more items on the failure list…"
"Did you fall apart where he could see it?" Emily asked not giving Lee an inch or any sympathy.
"Were you there when he woke up? Did you call for a nurse when he needed something?"
"So why would you say that you weren't strong and supportive? Maybe you couldn't help him get the water but you made sure someone got it for him…And feeding him…that was something Roy needed to do for his own self…You don't think he has been going thru hell thinking he failed Johnny? That it was his fault he had gotten hurt. That you were blaming him…"
"He did everything possible under the circumstances to help and protect Johnny… Johnny knows that and so do I…"
"And Johnny knows you are there for him…and that you love him and will do everything you can for him. Now where is the failure in that?" Lee didn't have an answer. "The physical limits we can help you with…Your main job if that’s what you want to call is to be supportive of him emotionally. If he thinks you are unhappy or angry he is going to react to that. You haven't let that happen and I don't believe you will. When he is feeling better then you can be the one who needs the support and comfort…and he'll be there to give it. Remember how hard it was for him before not to be able to help you in and out of the chair? Well, its going to be like that again only probably longer. Are you going to think less of him for that?"
"Of course not…"
"Ok now finish your sandwich so you can go visit him a little while longer before you have to leave for the night."
"I don't want to leave I want to stay. Kel has it written up on his chart that someone can be with him 24 hours…" She was pouting and she knew it but couldn't help it. She was just so frustrated.
"Leona Elizabeth, now you are being unreasonable. Is it going to help him if you go into muscle spasms because you have been in that chair too long? When was the last time you were out of it before we came up here?" Emily looked at her sternly.
"A little while ago."
"Besides the bathroom."
"I did my exercises before I got here…Ok you're right…I couldn't help him even if he needed it anyway."
"Ok now you ready to go back down for awhile?" Hank had been sitting back letting Emily handle this. Lee was looking thoughtful but there was still a lot of anger in her eyes. Hank was pretty sure the anger was at the situation and the frustration not at Em or him. "Honey, it’s ok to be frustrated just don't let it get in the way of what is really important. You can get help when John is at home for the physical stuff. He needs and deserves your emotional support. So if you are done feeling sorry for yourself and being mad at yourself…"
"See I told you she'd be back soon…He ate all the soup and drunk some juice."
"You eat?" Johnny looked at Emily for conformation when Lee said yes. "Spending too much time in here."
"Never, no such thing as spending too much time with you my boyo. And you need to stop fighting and go to sleep."
"Wanna stay awake…be awake when you came back."
"Well, I'm back and now you can sleep and get better…More you rest the quicker you'll be better." She had a tight hold on his hand. " I love you John Roderick Gage…you just think about that while you sleep…about all the things we're gonna do when you feel better."
"Visiting hours ended a half hour ago. Why are you still here?"
"If you check his chart you'll see the note from Kel…Dr. Brackett that someone will be with him at night and as much as possible during the day. Hector will be here until I get back in the morning with Johnny's breakfast…" Looking up at Hector, "You'll call if there is any problem, promise? And you have Kel's home phone and Dixie's if there is any problem?"
"You know the nurses will take good care of him and so will I…now go Maria will be worried about you."
The next four days went by slowly but Johnny was doing very well. The guys from 51 came to visit and Lee was able to get some work done when he was sleeping. Johnny was pretty antsy by now and was ready to go home. About 12:30 O'Shea's delivered lunch to him and Lee (with some extras in case they had visitors) They were just finishing when Kel came in.
"Well, you think if I sent this hose jockey go home tomorrow you can make him mind?"
"Oh very definitely…" Lee said smiling. "We've had several long talks about that this week…"
"Doc, she is worst than Roy when it comes to me following the rules." Johnny said. "If I don't follow her rules she won't cook." He teased. "That’s what I call cruel and unusual punishment."
Sticking her tongue at him in a pretend pout, "Is that the only thing I'm good for?" Johnny didn't answer just gave her a smile and raised his eye brows at her. Kel laughed at Lee turning red.
"Ok you two, behave. Lee I'll have everything ready for you in the morning…Seriously, John, no lifting or putting any undo pressure on your arm and shoulder. Rest and get back here if there are any problems. No driving for another 4 weeks…If you want to swim and do some light range of motion activities ok…"
"I'll have Jake call you and he can come over in a few days and work with him...OK?"
"Yeah that'll be great…" Kel smiled at the two holding hands. Johnny was sitting in the chair that someone had moved so it was over by the window. "I have to admit Lee I was a little worried how you'd handle this…but I should have known you two would be just fine."
"Well we had a lot of good family support. …Both personally and medically…Don't you think it'll be good for him to come to work with me and help do filing? That wouldn't put too much strain on his arm."
"Doc, did you ever see the size of some of those files?" Johnny grinned at her wrinkling her nose.
"Well I wouldn't want you lifting any the size of your medical file that’s for sure." They all laughed at that knowing his medical history. "OK you two …See you in the morning."
Later that afternoon Roy came in for a quick check. He was surprised to see Johnny was alone.
"She had a phone call from one of the other officers she had to take…I figure she'll be back in about a half an hour. Doc is letting me go home tomorrow. No dizzy spells for 24 hours…Everything else is looking good. Now maybe she'll get some rest."
"That’s great Junior. I know you've been ready for awhile…."
"Yep and Lee is gonna have Jake do the pt there at the house. That'll cut down on her having to bring me back here…It'll be mostly passive range of motion…Roy, you were with her a lot…How did she do? I think I heard her crying the other night…"
"She was pretty stressed out at first but she handled it pretty good. I know the day she couldn't hand you water when you first woke up was the hardest…The thing that she concentrated on was keeping calm for you and staying positive…Em and Cap let her rant and vent and from what Cap said Em didn't give her any sympathy and after that she was good. Once you get home if you need anything call."
"Thanks Pally and thanks for being there for her…and me."
"Look Junior if you hadn't pushed me out of the way you wouldn't have been here." Roy said. "You have to stop doing that…not just for you but for her now."
"Hey, if you had got hurt who would have taken care of me out there? It’s not all about you, Pal…Besides…you would have done the same for me." The unspoken communication between them said more than the words could.
"Well I better get back down there…I’ll let the guys know you're going home…Lee gonna need help getting you there?"
"Nawh…Maria and Cisco'll be there….Dixie and the orderlies will get me into the car …"
Several hours later they were still in his room talking and waiting for someone to bring him dinner. They were playing gin and like usual his expressions were giving it away when he had a good hand. "Johnny you never did tell me what you wanted for dinner tomorrow…You think about it and I'll make sure I have everything I need to fix it for you."
One of your roasts with all the veggies cooked around it and a pecan pie?
"Sounds good to me…if you don't mind doing all the work…"
"Helping you isn't work…It's what makes me feel the best about myself." She smiled at the puzzled look on his face.
"Waiting on me like you were a servant makes you feel good about yourself? That doesn't make sense."
"Oh? When you help me does that make you feel like a servant? Johnny, remember the times when I couldn't even do what the therapist use to call basic self care activities…You did everything…"
"That was different…"
"And just why is that?"
"Because I'm your husband it’s my job to take care of you….."
"Oh so giving me a shower and lifting me in and out of my chair was just a job to you? Helping me dress and brushing my hair were chores you had to do not to mention…"
"Ok stop it I get your point…I did those things because I wanted to make you more comfortable….and because you needed me. And because I love you and wanted you to be happy and secure----- and to know I would always be there for you…That wasn't playing fair."
"Kiss me and stop that foolishness." He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss.
"Gin…I finally won a game." He said discarding the ace of hearts.
"Only because you made me forget what card I was gonna play being silly…" She laughed and watched that wonderful crooked smile spread across his face. "All I could think of was how wonderful it'll be to have you home.
"Yeah guess that makes us both winners. I asked Roy how you were doing and he said you did good….Honey I wasn't talking behind your back I just needed to know…I could see you were tired and worried and I didn't want you making yourself sick over this…We both knew it was part of the job…"
"And we both know that some days are gonna be harder than others. The fact that we both know there are some fantastic wonderful people who love us and support us so whatever happens neither one of us is ever alone…Never again….do we have to face anything even our fears alone. And I know that being ALONE is not the same as not being in the same physical place …its knowing in our hearts there are others we can call on and trust. Maria said I grew up…I think it is more than that…but I can't explain it."
"I think it's knowing you are loved and have someone to love."
"Are you sure you can't think of anything else you need in the morning? I brought your clothes today…and your other shoes…Roast and pecan pie for dinner tomorrow night…"
"Will you stop fussing…" Johnny laughed as she wrinkled her nose at him. "Just make sure you get some good rest tonight…So Hector, you'll be here about 9?"
"Yes…I will have Maria's car so it'll be easy for you to get in…And we will be home all day if you need us but otherwise we will stay downstairs…I hope that your friends will also realize you two need some time alone and to rest…." He looked at Lee and she just smiled. She knew that since Johnny had been in Rampart the intercom system between the two apartments had never been off and they knew exactly when she was had been up moving around in the middle of the night. "I would guess there is enough bread in your freezer to last a you a month…or at least a week of cinnamon toast every day…" Hector teased.
"You should know there's been a loaf of bread or a pan of rolls for you every morning." Johnny just shook his head at her.
"So that’s how you've been keeping that temper under control…Lucky me," he said watching her eyes. They still looked tired but better.
"Don't gloat or I may give up baking…"
"Not until you do a pecan pie, please." He had a hold of her hand. "Whatever makes you happy Baby girl…Whatever helps you …"
The announcement that visiting hours were over was made and with one final kiss Lee and Hector left. Anita was at the nurses' station and Lee asked Hector to stop so she could talk with her a minute.
"Dr. Brackett said his discharge papers would be up here by 9...so we'll probably be here around 8:30...He is probably not gonna sleep well tonight …."
"We'll keep an eye on him…I know last night it was late when he finally turned the light off but he was reading and fine…Once he did go to sleep there wasn't any problem." Anita had heard some stories about his nightmares in the past.
On the way home they stopped at Keelson's and Lee got everything she needed to make Johnny's homecoming dinner and some other fresh fruits and veggies and 2 gallons of milk.
"Stevie will be disappointed he wasn't here….From the look of this cart I'd say Johnny is coming home. You know you need anything call and we'll deliver to you." Mark Keelson said as they went thru the check out.
"Thanks…I may just do that later in the week…Oh tell Stevie we are planning on going to the swim meet next week end…In fact we may even make it to the some other things since Johnny is off."
"Hello?" It had startled her when it rang.
"Hi …You ok? You sound worried?" Johnny asked.
"I was day dreaming and the phone just sort of surprised me…How you doing? That’s the important thing."
"Just waiting for the papers to get up to the nurses' station. Talked to Dixie a minute ago and she said Doc had sent everything to the discharge desk…You been up long?"
"Yeah I went to bed early last night…so was up early…" There was a knock on the door. "Hector is here…see you in about 20 minutes….Luv ya" She went over and let him in.
"I called but the line was busy…Did you call him or he call you?" Laughing at the look on her face.
"He called…I never call him first in case he is sleeping."
Lee heard him let out a long deep sigh and wheeled herself into the front room.
"Do you need something?"
"No I was just sitting here looking at the wedding portraits and thinking how good life is…and how blessed we are…A minute a go you looked up and never said a word just smiled at me…You looked so like your mom…Its just good to be us, ya know?"
"Yep it is….and even if some think it’s a crazy life for us it’s the best life…And it’s good to be back to what passes for normal for us."
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