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Eye of the Beholder - Part 4

Twilight

An Emergency Story
by Tammy B

LINKS TO PART 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the human touch in the world that counts…the touch of your hand and mine…Which means far more to the sinking heart than shelter or bread or wine. For shelter is gone when the night is o’er, and bread lasts only a day…But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice …Live on in the soul always…Spencer M Free

 

Joanne and Danella had been hard at work as well. They’d listed all the things that Dani would need for her wedding…From caterers to florists…Photographers to Reception halls. They had no church and Danella thought John would be alright with the Fire Department Chaplin presiding once they decided where it would be held.

 

Joanne questioned her on what type of gown she wanted but Danella admitted that with the wedding originally scheduled so far in the future that she hadn’t thought about it. They left Chris and Jen with Joanne’s parents and headed to a bridal shop to try and get some ideas of what she’d like.

 

Danella wandered through the rows and rows of white satin and tulle…Silk and chiffon, lace and sequins. The dresses were beautiful and she wandered further away from Joanne to lift one after another but most of them, though beautiful didn’t seem right for her. She stopped suddenly. On a mannequin a few feet away was an old fashioned wedding gown…Very obviously from some past era. She moved over to finger the fragile material. Though old it had been well preserved. The antique lace was still intact over the off white satin…The beadwork in mother of pearl still shone brilliantly in the overhead lights.

 

A salesgirl noticed her rapt expression and approached her. “Hi…I’m Sandy,” she said with a smile as she turned to look at the dress. “Beautiful isn’t it?” Danella nodded. “A girl brought it in a couple of days ago on consignment. She said it belonged to her great grandmother…They found it in the attic after she died. The girl said it was too old fashioned for her and she didn’t want it.

 

“Oh,” She bit her lower lip, eyeing the dress longingly. Her hands stroked the soft white material.

 

“Would you like to try it on?”

 

Dani hesitated. They were here to get ideas only. She had no money for a gown today…She’d been saving her money, working part time while going to school but she knew this dress would be out of her reach.

 

“Yes she wants to try it on,” Joanne said coming up beside her.

 

“Oh Joanne…I can’t afford this.”

 

“Just go ahead Danella.”

 

“But…”

 

Joanne’s raised eyebrow stopped her argument. “It can’t hurt to try it on.”

 

She chewed her lip a moment longer before nodding her agreement.  “Okay.”

 

Sandy carefully removed the dress from its stand and handed it to Danella.  She smiled at Joanne and hurried to the dressing room while Joanne spoke to the salesgirl. Dani reappeared a few minutes later. She was stunning.

 

The barely off white color of the dress accentuating the tawny hue of her skin…Even the salesgirl gasped in awe along with Joanne. “You’re beautiful…That dress was made for you,” Sandy said as she glanced at Joanne to see her reaction. 

 

“Do you want it?” Jo asked.

 

“Oh Joanne it’s beautiful.”

 

“Do you want to at least look at some others?

 

Danella sighed. “I have too. I doubt I could afford this one.”

 

“Dani…Is this the dress you want?” Jo persisted.

“Yes but…Perhaps I can find something similar a little bit cheaper.”


“The salesgirl shook her head. “We don’t carry anything like that new…You’d have to have it made.”

 

Dani looked disappointed. “Oh I see.”

 

Joanne smiled secretively as Danella turned to go change. She and the salesgirl began to talk. When Danella came out a few minutes later Joanne and the Sandy had disappeared. Danella didn’t want to just leave the dress so she held it carefully as she browsed the different headpieces and veils while waiting for Jo and the saleswoman to return.

 

 “Getting married?” A soft voice asked from behind her. Danella turned around. A beautiful young woman stood there. She was slightly older than Danella. She stood a couple of inches taller, her short brown hair sweeping just at her collar but her most striking feature was her wide, violet colored eyes.

 

“Yes I am,” Dani finally answered.

 

“May I see it,” the woman asked nodding at the dress the girl held so carefully in her arms. Danella smiled and held the dress up. “It’s beautiful,” she said sweetly. “Is your fiancée going to like something so old fashioned?”

 

Danella bit her lip suddenly aware that she hadn’t really thought about whether John would like it or not and she was suddenly unsure. “Well…Johnny’s never stated a preference but I think the wedding we’re planning will please him.”

 

“Johnny,” she whispered. Her eyes fell in the diamond on the girls left hand.

 

“Excuse me.”

 

“Oh nothing…So he’s helping you plan this?” she asked curiously.

 

“No…Actually our friend Joanne is. She’s around here somewhere.”

 

“His FRIEND…?” She asked sounding almost cold.

 

“His best friend’s wife…She’s kind of like his sister or,” she shrugged…“A mom to him.”

 

“I see,” she said softly. This girl was so gullible to believe Joanne was like a sister to him. “Well good luck…?” She let the sentence hang.

 

“Danella…”

 

“Danella…What a lovely name…”

 

“Thank you…I didn’t get yours…”

 

“DANI…,” Joanne’s voice called from a distance away.

 

She turned to see the older woman approaching with Sandy. “I was wondering where you’d gone,” Dani said.

 

“Who were you talking too?” Jo asked curiously…Sure she’d seen someone with Danella as she’d approached.

 

“Oh…Let me introduce you to…” She turned to where the other woman had been a moment before but she was gone.

 

“Well that’s strange…She was right here.”

 

“Who Dani…?” Jo asked in concern.

 

“I didn’t get here name…She was just about to tell me but then you called me.”

 

“What did she look like?” Jo asked urgently.

 

She was taller than me and she had short brown hair…”

 

“Brown…Not blonde…?”

 

“No brown…Why…?”

 

“Just being sure sweetie,” she said patting her hand. “Maybe she just had somewhere else to be,” she smiled reassuringly.

 

Sandy took the dress from her hands. “So Miss…Did you decide on this dress?”

 

Dani gave her a disappointed smile. “I can’t afford this but thank you for letting me try it on.”

 

“Dani…She didn’t ask if you could afford it…She asked if you wanted it?”

 

Remembering the other woman’s comments and really not knowing Johnny’s tastes that well yet she bit her lip uncertainly. “Do you think Johnny would like it?”

 

“Sweetie…Johnny would love it if it was a chartreuse gunny sack as long as you were wearing it and walking down the aisle to marry him.”

 

Dani grinned. “Then yes I want the dress but…”

 

“Then I’ll wrap it up,” Sandy said.

 

“No…No I can’t.”

 

Joanne’s hand on her arm stopped her protest. “It’s taken care of Dani.”

 

“What? But how…?”

 

“I…handled it.”

 

“Oh Joanne no…I know you and Roy can’t afford that.”

 

“I wish we could have but we had some help.”

 

“Who…?”

 

“John’s Aunt Rosemary… She told me at the party before the accident to be sure you have exactly what you want for your wedding.”

 

Danella’s eyes filled with tears. “Can she afford that?”

 

Joanne laughed. “Trust me Dani…She can afford that. Now let’s find the rest of what you’ll need.” Danella threw her arms around the older woman.

 

“Thank you…Thank you so much.”

 

“Thank her…But you can thank me, Dixie and Emily Stanley for the rest of your outfit. We all wanted to help too.”

 

“I have some money saved…I can’t let…,”

 

“Shhh…,” Joanne directed. “I’m the mother of the groom remember?” She laughed with a wink.

 

“I remember,” Dani replied with a grin.

 

They put the other woman from their mind and continued to look for headpieces on the table before them.

 

 

 

Gayle heard Joanne’s voice and took the opportunity to duck out of sight as Danella turned toward her friend. She hurried from the shop and back to the car she’d stolen this morning…Men were so predictable. Stand by the road with the hood up and show a little bare skin and some young man will stop to help a pretty girl in distress.  

It was a shame really…He’d actually been very nice and she’d had a bare twinge of guilt has she’d hit him with the tire iron. She’d dragged his body into the ditch and driven the first stolen car into the woods. It would be weeks before they found the body on this quiet road and by then…She and Johnny would be long gone and the pretty girl from the shop would be dead.

 

She’d take Johnny somewhere far away and make him forget Danella ever existed. She’d make sure the words he’d spoken to the raven haired girl would be repeated to her. ‘They’ll never be another woman.’ She smiled in anticipation.

 

She snapped back to the present and started the car. She knew where the girl was tucked away and now all she needed was someplace safe to take John once she had him. Her house in Fresno had been sold to pay her legal expenses, not to mention that that would be the first place they would have looked…Especially Roy. He’d never let her keep him if he could find him.  “Not this time DeSoto…You won’t take him from me this time…I’ll kill you first,” she whispered.  

 


The SCU toned the station out three times during the night. Johnny woke with the first one…Automatically sitting up to swing his feet over the edge of the bunk and wondering why the lights hadn’t come on before realizing that they had.

 

Roy’s hand lightly touched his shoulder. “Go back to sleep junior…We won’t be long.”

 

The officer that had replaced Vince…Another friend of Gage and DeSoto trotted in from the rec room. “Go ahead Roy…I’ll keep an eye on him,” he reassured the blonde paramedic.

 

“Thanks Scotty.” John sighed. He was a grown man for Pete’s sake…He didn’t need to have someone watching over him every minute.  Roy saw the mutinous scowl that settled on his friend’s features. “Behave Johnny,” he yelled back with a chuckle.

 

Scotty laughed as John lay back down in a huff and turned his back on the young officer. “Good night Johnny,” he said as he left the room and flicked the lights out.

 

“Mmmm,” he grunted wordlessly in return but he stayed awake “What happened?” He asked Roy, sounding like an excited child begging for stories. Roy began to explain in soft tones trying not to keep the others awake. It didn’t work but no one complained…They’d really missed these late night whispered conversations between the two friends. They listened in silence until Roy finished his tale and then they all drifted off.

 

When the tones sounded again, John woke but this time he simply waited until the growl of the engines receded into the distance before he slid back down under the covers.

 

Scott wasn’t sure but he thought he’d heard a single hitched breath before John drifted off once more. The young officer understood completely…Unable to imagine how he’d handle what John was going through or what he’d do if he had to give up doing what he loved.

 

John woke briefly as the crew returned to their bunks but he didn’t ask to hear the details. Roy leaned over him in the darkness. His lightly brushed his friend’s dark hair.

 

“I’m okay,” he whispered softly but Roy knew by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t okay.

 

“Goodnight Junior,” he said softly with an aching heart.

 

The third time the tones sounded it was just before dawn. Johnny rose with the others as they yanked on bunker pants and snapped suspenders into place. “I’ll have coffee ready by the time you get back,” he yelled to them as the rigs began to roll.

 

“That’ll be great pal,” Cap called tiredly. “We’ll all be ready for it.”

 

The others hollered their agreement as they rolled out of the bay.

 

John waited until the screaming of the sirens receded into the distance before turning to head for the rec room….His young blonde shadow trailing along behind.

 

“Coffee Scotty…?” Johnny asked softly.

 

“Sure John…I’ll make it.”

 

“That’s alright…I’ll make it.”

 

Scotty watched him move around the kitchen, seeming completely at ease. “That’s pretty impressive Johnny,” he said when the dark haired paramedic joined him.

 

“That’s nothin…You should see me cook,” John quipped holding up his burned hand.

 

Scotty chuckled and John grinned back at him. John’s hands suddenly flew toward his eyes as light’s danced before them once again. Flashes of multicolor zigzagged through his vision before fading to darkness.

 

“Johnny …What’s wrong?”  Scotty asked leaning over him. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah…Yeah it’s just…That’s the third time it’s done that.”

 

“Done what?”

 

“Light and color flashes in front of my eyes but then it goes away again.”

 

“Maybe that’s a good sign?” Scotty said encouragingly.

 

“Maybe…We’ll see,” he said with a shrug.

 

Scotty hoped so. Johnny had no idea how many people were hoping and praying for him and Scotty was one of them...hoping to see those still, dark eyes taking in the world once again.

 

The crew returned a short time later having dealt with the early morning car accident a few blocks away. “Johnny, that coffee smells terrific,” Mike said grabbing a mug and the coffee pot. John smiled as Roy and Chuck followed the engineer. The blonde paramedic brought his cup to the table stopping behind his young friend and resting his hands on his shoulders.

 

“C-Shift should be here any minute Junior and we can head for home.”

 

“Alright…Um…Roy? It happened again.”

 

“What did?”

 

 “The light…The colors.”

 

“That soon after the last time…How long did it last?”

 

“Just a few seconds…”

 

“I’ll call Brackett when we get home…See what he thinks but twice in twelve hours, that’s gotta be good.” John grinned at his friend’s enthusiasm.

 

The voices of the new shift arriving interrupted their conversation, becoming loud and excited as they spotted John.

 

“John!”

 

“Johnny!”

 

“Hey Gage!” Several greeted as they gathered around him…All but one. He hung back…His gray eyes downcast at the sight of the blind paramedic.

 

“Hey guys,” John greeted cheerfully with a smile…Accurately finding each man and calling him by name. “Barkley, Monty, Alvarez…Mornin Cap.” They looked at Roy in surprise and he shot them a grin but shook his head, letting them know without words that Johnny was in fact still blind.

 

Everyone’s eyes fell on Tom LaCera as he shuffled forward. “Um…Mr. Gage…?”

 

John cocked his head to the side. It wasn’t a voice he recognized. “Johnny,” Barkley began. “This is Tom LaCera.”

 

Roy’s eyes shot to Johnny’s face to see how he’d take that news but he was calm.

 

“Um…John…It was my fault you got hurt and I wanted to thank you for not asking them to fire me and to tell you how sorry I am…I…”

 

John held up his hand to stop him. “It was an accident…I accept your apology on the condition that you promise me that you’ll never be slack in checking the safety gear again.”

 

“I promise you,” he said sounding relieved.

 

John nodded. “Then it’s over,” he said.

 

Roy patted his shoulder. “Now that our replacements are here, why don’t we take off?”

 

“Lead on pally,” Johnny said as he climbed to his feet. He reached out and took his friends elbow. His cane unfolded with a snap and Roy led his partner from the room.

 

 

Gayle had been busy yesterday as well. She’d checked a couple of deserted looking farmhouses in the hills over Carson. Two were suitable and far enough away from anyone else that he wouldn’t be seen or heard until she brought him under control. It would only be a temporary place to hold him until she could take him away…Somewhere where Roy would never find him and she knew the older man would search...He’d never give up so John had to be far, far away.

 

She grinned wickedly at the idea of the handsome, dark haired paramedic once again in her hands and at her mercy. The next thing she needed was cash. The wallet she’d stolen from her last victim had only had a hundred dollars and it was dwindling fast. She’d need food, a chain, rope and a lantern. “Soon…,” she whispered. “Soon Johnny…”  She found a pay phone and pulled up beside it. She had a favor to call in.

 

 

Johnny and Roy spent the next two days at home. Roy called Dr. Brackett first thing when they arrived home to tell him about the two episodes John had experienced at the station. “Twice in twelve hours?”

 

“That’s right Doc…”

 

“Is he still having those headaches?”

“Yeah…”

 

“Alright Roy….Dr. Fisher is pretty backed up but why don’t you bring Johnny  in on your next day off and I’ll run another skull series…I’ll check with Joe and see if he can do another EEG as well.”

 

“Thanks Doc,” he said hanging up. “Okay Junior…Doc says to bring you in day after tomorrow.”

 

Johnny nodded his agreement. “You suspected I needed my head examined,” he quipped with a grin.

 

“Frequently,” Roy teased.

 

Oliver and Lenny knocked on the door soon after and spent the morning teaching Johnny the first few letters of the alphabet in Braille…His fingers trailing over the series of dots. John picked it up quickly, pleasing both his friend and his teacher. The Rest of the evening was quiet and uneventful…Both men hoping that Gayle had given up and gone away.

 

Lenny and Oliver returned the next day and picked up where they left off. By the time they were ready to leave, John had the first ten letters of the alphabet memorized and even managed to read a few words from a children’s reader.

 

Roy watched his partner with a mixture of awe and pride, knowing there was nothing John couldn’t do once he set his mind to it.

 

Oliver also complimented his student. “You’re one of the quickest learners I’ve ever taught John,” he told the young fire fighter.  “I’m very impressed. At this rate we’ll have you on your own in a couple of months.”

 

“A couple of months…!” John gasped in shock. “Man…Roy and Jo will be sick to death of me by then.”

 

Roy chuckled as he good naturedly tousled John’s dark hair. “Who says I’m not already Junior?” He teased.

 

Johnny grinned, knowing his friend would let him stay as long as necessary. They’d established long ago how they felt about each other and that emotional bond had only grown stronger over the years. They couldn’t have loved or cared for each other more if they’d been born to the same family. It had taken a long time to build up to being able to tell each other how they felt without being embarrassed by it but the bond had been there from the beginning.

 

John was Roy’s brother in everything but blood and each would willingly give their life for the other…A fact that was unspoken but well known by everyone in the department.

 

Oliver and Lenny enjoyed the easy comradery and the teasing banter they exchanged with gentle good humor and realized that that angry behavior at the station had been a rare occurrence, probably brought on by a combination of Danella’s leaving, the painful headache that seemed to plague him and the stress of being at the station and unable to function in the job he loved.

 

Oliver and Lenny were just leaving when Detective Campbell arrived. “Roy…Johnny…Can I talk to you for a minute?”


“Sure…C’mon in… Can I get you something to drink?”

 

He sniffed the air. The aroma of a fresh brewed pot of coffee filled the air. “Coffee would be good…It smells great.”

 

“It is...Johnny just made it.”

 

“Johnny did?”


“Sure,” John replied. “I do all the housework. Roy’ll tell you it’s teaching me to be on my own but I’ve figured it out. It’s really slave labor,” Johnny quipped.

 

Roy chuckled at the comment but Douglas glanced between them…Not sure if it was joking or serious until John suddenly flashed that lopsided Gage grin in his direction and began to giggle. Campbell’s laughter joined theirs.

 

Roy set the coffee on the table a moment later. “So what’s up?”

 

“We’ve had a report on Gayle Markson’s whereabouts.”

 

“And…?” Roy asked.

 

“Someone put in an anonymous call that she was seen in Oregon. The description of the vehicle matches the one stolen from her first victim.”

 

“So she’s left the state? It’s safe for the girls and the kids to come home?” John asked excitedly.

 

“Hold it Johnny…,” Roy began.

 

“Why don’t we hold off…The state police are trying to coordinate with their counterparts in Oregon just to be sure it’s a legitimate sighting and not a ploy on her part or a mistake. I’m leaving your shadow for a few more days at least,” he interrupted. “Until we’re comfortable that she’s really given up and moved on.”

 

“You don’t think so?” Roy asked.

 

Campbell shook his head. “The doctor’s at the institute don’t think she’d give up that easily. Her psychosis was extreme and it was aimed directly at you John…Your name was the only thing that drew any verbal response…Hell any reaction at all from that woman.”

 

“Great,” he mumbled.

 

Doug patted his arm. “I think it’s almost over.”

 

“That would be a relief,” Johnny said quietly.

 

“How’re your eyes John? Any good news…?”

 

“Well I’ve had some flashes of light and color which means there’s something going on in there. They think the nerves may be trying to heal and function properly.”

 

“That’s good news.”

 

“Yeah…But so far it comes and goes again…So…,” he shrugged in frustration.

 

“It’ll come back,” Campbell said positively. “I’ve come to the determination that you’re the luckiest man I’ve ever met.”

 

John’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Lucky? How do you figure?”

 

“Look at everything you’ve been through.”

“Exactly…So how do you figure?”

 

“Depends on how you look at it. I mean sure…You’ve had bad things happen to you but you’ve survived every one of them. You came back stronger. You’ve gained a family, friends that love you, a stunningly beautiful woman who thinks the sun rises and sets on you.” John grinned. “You had a job you excelled at and hopefully will again but even if you can’t…I have no doubt you’ll find something you can do and you’ll run with that as well. You’re probably the most determined man I’ve ever met.”

 

Roy was watching Johnny as Doug spoke. He sat there listening in stunned silence until he finished. “I guess I never looked at it that way. I just saw the bad stuff…Thanks for the insight.” John grinned. “At least I can still see that?”

 

Doug chuckled. “It’s in the eye of the beholder John. How YOU see things…From the beauty to each event in your life…Your perspective,” Doug said standing up. “Thanks for the coffee and I’ll keep you informed. Now I have to go talk to your police chief and be sure your shadow stays put for a while longer.” He threw a wink at Roy and patted John’s shoulder. “Later…?”

 

“Yeah…Bye Doug,” John said quietly.

 

Roy walked him out and then came to rejoin his friend. John sat quietly and even though his dark eyes were expressionless, Roy could tell he was deep in thought. “What’s up Junior?”

 

“Just thinkin…”

 

“About what…?”

 

“How it sometimes takes a stranger to make you see things from a different perspective. Man…I take you and Jo…Dani…My friends for granted. Like the other day.”

 

“No you don’t Johnny. You’re usually very caring about us. Now I admit that you weren’t very perceptive when we first met but that’s a symptom if ASD. Now…John you’ve grown so much in the last six years…Come so far. You never take anything for granted. The other day…That was stress talking…Rebellion over the situation you were in. I understood.”

 

“You were hurt.”

 

“Sure I was but I love you and it tears at my heart to see you frustrated and hurt and angry and know I can’t do anything to help you.”

 

“Of course you do…You’re there every single day for me and you always have been.” John’s hand reached for Roy and the older man caught it as my much by habit as design. “I don’t know what or where or even who I’d be now without you,” he smiled ruefully. “You’ve been a rock for me to stand on…My best friend and my brother. You and Jo have been the parents I lost.” Roy’s eyes filled with tears. “That’s why I asked Jo to help Dani plan our wedding…It’s something my Mom would have done.”

 

“I didn’t know,” Roy said quietly as he wiped the embarrassing moisture from his eyes.

 

“There’s something else too. I um…Took it for granted but I need to ask.”

 

“What’s that Junior?”

 

“Would you stand with me at my wedding? I’d uh…Like you to be my best man?”

 

“You know I will Johnny…I guess I just took it for granted as well.”

 

“Roy I know I don’t say this very often and it’s still hard for me and it really shouldn’t be. I mean you tell me all the time but I love you and Jo.”

 

Roy grinned and ruffled the sable hair back. “I know junior…I know.” John grinned at him and Roy gave him a soft push. “C’mon slave…We’ve got housework to do.”

 

 

John and Roy were up early the next morning. Roy was getting ready for work while John made breakfast. The older man came into the kitchen…His blue eyes looking surprised that John wasn’t dressed yet. “Breakfast coulda waited til ya finished dressing junior,” Roy said getting the cups to pour the coffee.

 

“I didn’t need to be dressed to hang around the house and Oliver doesn’t care what I’m wearing.”

 

“You’re not staying here junior…You’re going to the station.”

 

“I don’t want to Roy.”

“Johnny…You love it there,” Roy pointed out.

 

“It’s too hard…To hear those tones go off…To know that someone else is in my seat…It’s where I’m supposed to be ya know? Next to you…And I can’t be.” Tears sprang to John’s eyes but he blinked them away.

 

Roy’s heart broke and he understood but John was still in danger. “I can’t leave you here alone Junior.”

 

“I’m not alone. Grayson’s right outside or another one just like him and Oliver and Lenny will be here in a couple of hours to teach me K through T. Maybe I can read some more Dr. Suess books tonight and practice,” he said ruefully. Roy stood rooted in indecision…John sensed it. “I’ll be okay Roy. “I’ll eat cold sandwiches for lunch and dinner and I won’t cook until you get back in the morning. I promise I won’t burn your house down,” he teased.

 

“I’m not worried about the house Johnny. I’m worried about you.”

 

“I know,” John said seriously. “But I think Gayle’s given up. I mean Oregon’s a long way…”

 

“If it was her...”

 

“No one’s seen her in days and no one’s found any more bodies they can attribute to her.”

 

“I don’t know,” Roy hedged.

 

“I’ll be alright Roy…I promise you. You have to let me try on my own sometime and it’s just one day.”

 

Roy sighed. “Okay Junior but I’m gonna call and check on ya so don’t get mad.”

 

“Okay,” John agreed.

 

“Alright,” Roy said reluctantly as he sat down at the table. John set a plate of pancakes before him. They were perfect. “How do you know when they’re done?” Roy asked.

 

“Set the stove on medium heat. It takes seventy eight seconds on each side,” Johnny said smugly.

 

Roy chuckled. “Show off,” he muttered. John laughed as he sat down to eat. Roy helped him clean up afterwards and headed for the door. “I’ll see you in the morning Johnny.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Keep the door locked.”


“I will.”

 

Roy gave him one final worried look as he went out the door. He heard the lock click behind him and nodded in satisfaction. He gave a nod to the bored, young officer in the patrol car out front and drove away.

 

 

Gayle sat in her car a block up the street from the Hutchins’. She was watching and waiting patiently for an opportunity to grab the girl. She’d been outside the house since last night with no luck so far. Joanne’s father had gone off to work, leaving the three women and two children alone but she knew she couldn’t handle that many hostages alone and with only the knife she’d stolen from the DeSoto home…She continued to wait.

 

 

John puttered around the house for a couple of hours. He had to admit that it was pretty lonely and he wished for some company. The knock on the door that signaled Oliver and Lenny’s arrival was a welcome relief.

 

“Who is it?” He asked cautiously.

 

“Oliver Kendall,” the other replied. John opened the door and let the two men inside before closing and locking it securely.

 

He threw them a rueful grin. “I promised Roy I’d be careful,” he explained.

 

“Wise idea John, at least until you know where this woman is.”

 

“The police think she’s in Oregon.”

 

“Oh…? Well that’s a relief I guess.”

 

“Yeah…But they’re not sure so we’re still being cautious and I guess I’ll keep waiting.”

 

 

Roy arrived at work…His solo entrance to the station greeted by looks of disappointment by both the departing B shift and the arriving crew of A shift.

 

“Where’s John pal?” Hank asked.

 

“The other day was pretty rough on him Cap,” Roy explained. “Besides, he says he has to try being on his own sometime so…”

 

“What about Gayle?” Chet asked in concern.


“Well the police said they had a report of her being in Oregon so they’re hoping she’s given up and gone away.”

 

“But they’re not sure?” Marco asked worriedly.

 

“No…Not absolutely…”

 

“So Johnny could still be in danger?” Mike questioned.

 

“Yeah,” Roy said honestly. “But he does still have the cop outside and Oliver and Lenny will be there most of the morning and some of the afternoon so he’s probably safe enough,” Roy said not sounding all that convincing.

 

"Well…Just call him a few times just to be sure,” Hank ordered.

 

“I will cap. I already warned him that I would be.” They all grinned as they headed for the rec room for coffee.

 

 

Gayle waited another hour or so, trying to come up with some way to lure the girl out of the house. Her patience was finally rewarded as the front door opened and Joanne, her mother and the two children climbed into the gray station wagon and drove away. The raven haired girl was alone and it was time to move. Gayle licked her lips in anticipation. In a few short hours, John Gage would once again belong to her. She smiled to herself as she imagined him chained to her bed…Helpless and uninjured as he had been fourteen months ago…At least until his partner and his wife had spoiled everything. “Not this time Roy…This time…I WIN.” She began tucking her hair beneath the brown wig.

 

 

Danella, I hate leaving you all alone here. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to come with us?”

 

“Oh Joanne thank you but I’m not in the mood for a movie. I just…I guess I’m just worried about Johnny. Roy said he was home alone today.”

 

“He’ll be fine. The officer’s still outside.”

 

“I know but…”

 

Jo smiled at the girl. “Okay sweetie, I won’t push you. We’ll only be gone a couple of hours.”

 

“Okay...I’ll be fine.” Joanne and her mom headed out the door with Chris and Jen. A moment later Dani heard the car start up and they drove away

 

 

Ten miles north of San Diego, a young hiker made a gruesome discovery. The body of Gayle’s last victim, half buried in a ditch. The young man took one look at the victim and began to vomit. Afterward…He ran home to call the police. Soon the area was swarming with officers and detectives.

 

Joanne and her mom had just left and Danella was looking forward to some time alone. She missed Johnny terribly and desperately wanted to pack her things and head for Los Angeles. She wanted to hold him, kiss him. She sighed at the thought of his smile. The soft sable hair and his gorgeous brown eyes that even without sight remained heartbreakingly puppy like…A window to his soul.

 

She remembered his eyes before the accident. Alight with a mischievous twinkle or a teasing wink. Full of sadness as they’d been in Montana or hooded with seduction…Half closed in passion…

 

A knock on the door disturbed her reverie. She opened the door a crack to see the young woman from the bridal shop standing outside. “Can I help you?” Dani asked innocently.

 

“Yes…Oh I’m so glad I found you. The girl from the bridal shop told me where you were.”

 

“Why?” Danella asked in confusion.

 

“I have something to give you.”

 

Dani looked at her curiously. The woman seemed harmless enough…Besides Gayle was blonde and this woman’s hair was brown and she didn’t even know Danella existed…She was being silly. She opened the door a little wider. “What’s that?”

 

“THIS…” The woman gave the door a surprisingly hard shove. It caught Danella off guard and she stumbled backward. “What are you doing?” She gasped in shock. “Are you crazy?” Her words cut off as she pulled the brown wig from her head, letting the blonde hair tumble free.

“You…You’re that woman…Gayle?”

 

The older woman grinned in pleasure. “So Johnny did mention me?”

 

“He told me you were crazy…That you tried to kill him.”

 

“No…No that’s not true… He got in the way. It wasn’t supposed to be him. I never meant to hurt him.  It was supposed to be the cop and his whore Joanne.” Dani’s eyes widened. “He didn’t tell you that did he…? About his affair with Roy’s wife…?”

 

 “You are crazy…Joanne is like his sister, his mom. She’d never sleep with John,” she said angrily as she stepped toward the blonde.

 

Gayle saw the motion and reached behind her to pull the knife from her waistband where she’d tucked it earlier. “No…You stay right there.”

 

Dani froze. “What do you want?”

 

“I want Johnny.”

 

“He’s not here.”

 

“Oh I’m well aware of that. I know exactly where he is but you see…Johnny’s been a very bad boy. He went and found someone else and I can’t have that. He has to be punished.”

 

“NO…,”Danella gasped. “Please don’t hurt him,” she pleaded.

“Oh don’t worry Danella. I won’t hurt him enough to incapacitate him…No I have other ways to teach him and you’re going to help me.”

 

“No,” she breathed out softly, knowing this woman was going to use her to control Johnny. What would he do to save Danella? She already knew the answer. Anything this woman told him to. Dani couldn’t let that happen.

 

She suddenly turned and bolted for the back door. Gayle was caught off guard but it only lasted for a moment…She raced after her. The beautiful, black haired girl reached the back door but it was locked. She flipped the lock and jerked the door open but those seconds had cost her. The larger blonde woman grabbed a handful of raven hair. Dani felt herself yanked backward and she whirled with the intent to claw the violet eyes out of the woman’s head but the knife handle descended too quickly. Dani felt a stunning blow and her vision grayed…She felt herself falling.

 

She forced her eyes open and saw the smirking face of her attacker leaning over her. Gayle smiled triumphantly as she waved the knife in front of Dani’s face before laying the blade along the girl’s cheek. “I wonder how much Johnny would love you if I cut up that pretty face?” She sneered. Dani’s eyes widened in terror but Gayle only laughed. “Remember that warning…If you try and run again…I’ll carve my initials in your cheek…Understand?”   Dani nodded fearfully. “Now we’re going to walk quietly to my car and you’re going to get in back. I’m going to tie you up and then we’re going to see Johnny. We’ll let him choose between us…And for his sake, it better be me he chooses,” she giggled. “Not that it really matters.”

 

Gayle pulled the frightened girl to her feet. “Let’s go…And remember, one twitch and I’ll kill you,” she warned as she prodded the girl in the back with the huge carving knife. She snatched a dish towel from the counter and draped it over the knife she picked up the wig with her free hand. “Move,” she commanded.

 

Dani did as she was told. Her head pounded miserably and she was shaking in terror and for a moment she thought she was going to be sick but she made it to the car. She lay down almost gratefully in the back seat. She felt her hands drawn behind her back and the rough fibers of a rope cutting into her soft skin. Gayle twirled the dish towel before slipping it into Dani’s mouth and knotting it securely behind her head. The blonde moved to the trunk and removed a blanket she’d placed there earlier. She returned to throw it over the younger woman to conceal her body.

 

She never noticed the gray haired woman two doors down that stood watering her plants. She watched curiously, wondering if the pretty dark haired girl was sick. She shrugged as they drove away. It was none of her business.

 

 

Two hours later Detective Campbell received a phone call. “Detective Campbell…This is Lieutenant Crawford with the state police out of Santee…”

 

“What can I do for you?”

 

“We’ve found a body down here?”

 

“Whose?” He asked in concern.

 

“A young man…Name’s ahhh. Steven Phillips.”

 

The name meant nothing to Campbell. “Okay?”

 

“His car is missing but the strange thing is that we found a different car off in the woods not far from the body.”

 

“And…?” Doug prompted.

 

“Well…It matches one that you put an APB out on a week ago.”

 

Doug sat up straighter. “What kind of car?” He asked worriedly.

 

“Blue Pontiac…”

 

“Oh my God…How long has it been there?”

 

“Our M.E. says the bodies been here about three days.”

 

“Damn it…Oh God…Okay…Where is Santee?”

 

“About ten miles north of San Diego…”

 

“Oh Jes…,” he cut himself off. “She’s going for Jo or Dani,” he shouted.

 

“What? What did you say?”


“Look…I need you to go to San Diego. I’ll give you the address. There are two women there that need your protection. Joanne DeSoto and Danella Four Feathers.”

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“If I’m right, I have an escaped psychopath whose gonna try for one of them. She’ll use them as a hostage against the man she’s really after. A fire fighter by the name of John Gage out of LA… She’s already kidnapped him once before…Look just get to the women and call me back when you have them safe and I’ll try and reach John and warn him. This is the address…480 Baker St. San Diego…Stay with them til you hear from me. What kind of car did Phillips drive? I need to put out an APB on it.”

 

“Dark green 1973 Ford Mustang...Plate number 6SDI12.”

“Got it…Thanks…” Campbell slammed the phone down and looked at his partner. “We got a problem Dick.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“The sighting of Gayle Markson in Oregon…”

 

“False?”

 

“Yeah…She’s still here in California and she may be going for Joanne or John’s fiancée Danella.”

 

“You sure…?”

 

“The report came in yesterday that she was still driving the blue Pontiac but they just found the car and they estimate that the body found with it has been there at least three days.”

 

“So she’s got a new ride?”

 

“Yeah…a 1973 green Ford mustang.”

 

 

 

The green ford mustang pulled up around the block from the DeSoto home. Gayle took a moment to tuck her hair back under the brown wig. She flicked the bangs and smoothed the hair down before climbing out of the car. She tucked the knife behind her back and into her waist band, then slid the jacket she’d stolen from Joanne on to cover it. She looked in the backseat…Terrified amber eyes looked back at her. She grinned.

 

 

Joanne DeSoto opened the front door of her mother’s house, a little surprised to find it unlocked. Her mom followed her in as Chris and Jen shot past them and ran inside. “Aunt Dani…?” Jen called. “We brought you some ice cream.”

 

The house was silent and Joanne began to get a bad feeling. “Danella…?” She called as she and her mother exchanged a worried glance.

The children raced from room to room searching for the pretty dark haired girl. “She’s not here mom,” Chris said as they returned from their exploration of the house. Jen looked disappointed.

 

“Maybe she went for a walk,” Arlene offered.

 

“She wouldn’t do that mom…Not without leaving a note,” she said looking around in concern. “I’m gonna call Roy.”

 

She picked up the phone and dialed. “LA County fire station 51 Captain Stanley speaking…”

 

“Hank…It’s Joanne. Is Roy there?”

 

“Sure Jo…Something wrong?” he asked, correctly reading the worried tone of her voice.

 

“Hank…Danella’s missing. We went out and when we got back she was gone. “

 

“What? Let me get Roy.”

 

She heard Cap bellow Roy’s name…There was a low murmur of conversation and then his voice came on the line.  “Hi honey…Cap says Dani’s missing?”

 

“Yes…We went to the movies. Dani didn’t want to go so we left her at home but we just got back and she’s gone and the house was unlocked.”

 

“Okay honey, don’t panic. Did you check the back yard? Maybe she’s on the patio or she went for a walk or…”

 

“She’s not on the patio or the backyard and I can’t believe she’d go out and be so thoughtless to not leave a note to tell us where she’d gone. I’m worried.”

 

“I guess you’re right…Maybe you should call the police there and I’ll call Doug and see if he can call them so they’ll take it seriously.”

 

“Thanks honey…I’ll call you back and let you know what they say…” There was a thudding in the background and Joanne came back on the line. “Roy…? There’s an officer at the door right now.”

 

“Okay honey…I’ll wait.” He looked at Cap while he waited for Joanne to return.  “They went to a movie and when they got back Dani was gone. She probably took a walk but now she says there’s a cop at the door.” Cap shrugged his own confusion at the situation.

 

Joanne’s voice came back on the line. “The police say they’re here to protect Dani and me. Honey…They think Gayle may be in the area…They’re afraid she may have taken Dani…,” Joanne cried.

 

“Oh my God,” Roy whispered in shock.

 

“What pal?” Hank asked.

 

“Gayle…,” Roy breathed in horror.

“Oh good Lord,” Hank gasped as the others began to gather around.

 

“When honey?” Roy asked. “How long ago…?”

 

“I don’t know…We’ve been gone a couple of hours.”

 

Roy did the calculation. She could easily have made it the one hundred and ten miles back to LA in that time…His face paled. “Jo…Have them call Doug. There’s only one reason she’d take Dani.”

 

“To use her against…”

 

“Yeah,” Roy said cutting her off. “She’s making a run at Johnny. Gotta go…” He hung up the phone to a circle of concerned faces gathered around him. The phone rang again and he snatched it up, thinking it was Joanne calling him back. “Fireman Roy DeSoto…”

 

“Roy it’s Doug.”

 

“I know Doug…Gayle may have Danella.”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“Isn’t that why you called?”

 

“No…No. I just called to warn you that she might be in the San Diego area.”

 

“I already know…And Danella’s missing.”

 

“Oh God…When?”

 

“A couple of hours ago…”

 

“Johnny?”

 

“That’s what I’m afraid of. I’m heading there now.”

 

“Call me Roy.”

 

Roy slammed the phone down. “Cap…I think Gayle’s going for Johnny.”

 

“Let’s move then. I’ll call for assistance from the engine. Let’s go guys…John could be in trouble.”

 

The stampeding sound of frantic footsteps followed as the crew raced from the rec room. The rigs were rolling before the doors finished their upward climb.  The sirens began to wail as Captain Stanley picked up the mic and called for help.

 

 

Johnny saw Oliver and Lenny out after his lesson. He’d spent the morning learning the next five letters of the alphabet and reviewing the ones he’d learned yesterday.  Oliver patted his shoulder encouragingly…You’re doing great John. We’ll have you reading again in no time and not Dr. Suess either.

 

John had chuckled at that. He’d stayed for his usual four hours and John closed and locked the door behind them as they left. He’d made himself a sandwich…Keeping his promise to Roy not to run the stove alone. He made his way to the couch in the living room and was about to sit down when he heard the knock at the door. John moved to answer it. “Who is it?” He called.

 

 

 

Officer Sean Grayson sat in his patrol car as he had everyday but once for the last six days. He yawned in boredom and wondered what he’d done wrong to annoy the Sarge enough to pull this detail. What a waste of time. Who’d want to bother a blind fireman anyway? Sean glanced in his rearview. He saw a lovely woman approaching is car. Her shoulder length brown hair swung, barely brushing her collar as she walked.

 

Well at least the scenery was getting better. He rolled his window down at her approach. “Can I help you ma’am?” He asked as he smiled up into her violet eyes. 

 

“I need help. My car broke down,” she pouted prettily as she pointed at a green mustang parked up the street.

 

“Well I can’t leave my post here,” he said apologetically, wishing he could. He’d much rather help her than sit here doing nothing. He remembered Vince Howard’s words to take this more seriously. “I can call you a tow truck,” he offered looking up once more into the unusual colored eyes. Violet…Just like the description of the girl he was supposed to be watching for.

 

His radio crackled to life as realization suddenly sank in. “One David Four…We have an update on your current assignment. Be on the lookout for a 1973 green ford mustang. Possible suspect vehicle for the escaped inmate Gayle Markson...”

 

Grayson reached for his gun as he turned his head toward the window. He was a second too slow.

 

Gayle reached in the car window and took the gun from the officer’s hand. He wouldn’t need it anymore anyway.

 

The radio crackled once more. “One David Four acknowledge…” Gayle knew she had little time. She hurried back to the car, wiping the sticky wetness of the young officer’s blood from her hand onto her pants. It was a shame…He’d seemed very nice.  She pulled the mustang into the yard and climbed out. She flipped the seat forward and pulled the beautiful and very frightened young Indian woman out of the back.

 

Dani groaned softly as her muscles throbbed in protest at being held in one position for so long. Gayle’s eye glittered insanely as she anticipated her reunion with Johnny. She yanked the gag from the girl’s mouth and pulled her to the door. She knocked softly and heard the voice both women longed to hear. “Who is it?”

 

 

 

Joanne paced the room frantically as the police roamed the house...Her two children watching in wide eyed terror. They weren’t sure what was going on but they knew their Aunt Dani was missing and Uncle Johnny was in danger. Chris remembered it all too well. Uncle Johnny had almost died a year ago because of that woman Gayle and now she had Danella.

 

An officer came in a moment later. His softly spoken words sucked the breath from Joanne. “One of the neighbors up the street says she saw a blonde woman take a young black haired woman away in a green car. She said she thought she might be sick because the blonde laid her down in the back and covered her with a blanket.”

 

Joanne began to weep softly. Her mother wrapped her arms around her comfortingly. “She’s got her mom and she’ll either kill her or use her to get to Johnny.”

 

“They’ll get there in time. I know I’m not Roy’s biggest fan but I know he loves that young man. He’ll get to there in time…He will.”

 

Joanne nodded but she wasn’t convinced.

 

“Who is it?” Johnny called again.

 

Gayle waved the knife threateningly. “Talk to him. Tell him to open the door.” Dani swallowed hard…She knew her life could be forfeit if she didn’t do as she was told but she couldn’t put John’s life at risk…She loved him too much. She put her face near the door… “Amâxestá (run) Ná’méhόt,” she screamed. 

 

She felt her head jerked sharply back  by the hair. The knife danced before her eyes and began to descend but the sound of the lock clicking stopped the other woman’s hand. John stood in the open doorway…A look of terror in his eyes and Dani knew that even though he couldn’t see he understood what he was about to give up. His freedom…Possibly his life for the woman he loved.

 

“Oh Ná’méhόt no…,” she whimpered.

 

John’s eyes didn’t flicker but a look of sorrow entered into them. He opened his mouth. “Come in Gayle,” he said softly.

 

 

John got no response to his first call. He tried again. “Who is it?” He demanded. There was a momentary silence and then the voice he longed to hear but it was filled with terror.

 

“Amâxestá Ná’méhόt...”

 

John gasped in horror. “Oh God,” he whispered. “She’s got Dani.” He never hesitated. He unlocked the door and swung it open. The darkness before his eyes couldn’t mask the emotions that seemed to emanate from before him and reached out to slap him in the face. Terror…Hopelessness…Maniacal glee...

 

“Oh Ná’méhόt no,” he heard her frightened voice.

 

John’s eyes never wavered. He didn’t need to see. “Come in Gayle,” he said softly, hopelessly. She had Dani and John would do anything to protect her...

Gayle laughed triumphantly as she pushed Danella inside. The girl stumbled falling into John’s arms. They closed about her instinctively. “Ná’méhόt,” he whispered in her ear as he set her upright.

 

Gayle stepped forward. “Let her go,” she snapped. John obeyed instantly…His head turned toward where Gayle’s voice had come from.

 

“I’ll do anything you want. We can leave right now…You don’t need her.”

 

Gayle’s eyes narrowed as she looked at Johnny suspiciously. “What’s wrong with you my darling?” She asked quietly as she moved toward him. His eyes didn’t follow. “Look at me,” she demanded.  John’s head turned as if trying to locate where she’d moved to and Gayle suddenly understood. She gasped in shock. “My God…You’re blind!” She exclaimed.

 

“Yes,” he whispered. John hoped she’d be put off by it but she began to laugh.

 

“This is perfect,” she giggled. “Helpless and totally dependent on me…But I don’t have a lot of time my love,” she teased. “Put your hands behind your back.”

 

John swallowed fearfully but did as he was told. She pulled a short length of rope from the pocket of her jacket and tied his hands securely. “Dani…Are you okay?” He asked softly.

 

“Yes,” she whispered. Danella almost cried at the look of relief on John’s face.

 

“Thank God.”

 

Gayle moved around in front of him. She shot a glare at Dani. “Now my darling…I want a proper greeting,” she demanded as she cupped his face between her hands. He flinched instinctively but quickly recovered as her mouth claimed his in a passionate kiss…Her hand circling behind his neck to hold him still. Her mouth forced his open and John thought he’d be sick as her tongue entered his mouth to touch his.

 

A soft moan of anguish from Danella told Johnny how badly this hurt the younger woman to watch but he was helpless to stop it. To resist was to have her hurt Dani and John wouldn’t risk that. John kissed her back. His mouth claimed the blonde woman’s until she gasped for breath and pulled away. She grinned triumphantly at the tears in Danella’s eyes, thinking they were tears of pain and not understanding that they were for John and the sacrifice he was making for her.

 

Gayle’s hand traveled over John’s chest and down his belly. “If only I had more time,” she teased fondling his belt buckle before sliding lower. John stood motionless… His teeth clenched and his face flaming in humiliation. It was torture to know the woman he loved was watching this and could do nothing to stop it. “Well I wish I had more time…I’d make love to him right here for you to watch,” she taunted the younger girl. “But we have to go. I’m really sorry Danella but…Well you do understand that I can’t have him pining away for you…?”

 

“What do you mean?” John asked fearfully.

 

“I’m sorry my darling but she has to die.”

 

“NO,” John yelled. “No…I won’t let you. I won’t go with you if you hurt her. I’ll fight you every step of the way and I’ll hate you forever.”

 

“SHUT UP,” Gayle shrieked. John felt the solid thump of the gun butt against the side of his head and he staggered back…His head spinning. Danella’s gasp of horror was barely heard.

 

“No…Please don’t hurt him.” Gayle’s hand lashed out to slap John hard across the face. His head reeled to the side and he lost his balance. He stumbled sideways, gasping in fear as he felt himself falling but he managed to land on the couch. Gayle was on him instantly. She hit him again and again. “No…Please stop,” Danella begged. Gayle’s hands tugged at his belt.

 

“What if I take you right here…I’ll make the time…Right in front of her John…Let her see how much you hate me.”

 

He shook his head frantically trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. Bright lights flashed before his eyes but as before they faded again to blackness. “No,” he finally breathed out. “No…Please Gayle, I’m begging you…Please don’t hurt her. I’ll go with you. I’ll make love to you if that’s what you want but please…Let her go.”

 

“I’m sorry my darling,” she said, stroking his bruised and battered face softly. “But you have to learn.”

 

John was shaking in shock and fear for Danella. His head was pounding horribly and he could feel the blood trickling through his hair. He tried to nod but dizziness washed through him. “I will…I…I promise I’ll be good but don’t hurt her,” he whispered.

 

“Well…You being blind does throw a damper on this. I wanted you to see it but hearing it will have to do,” she said standing up. “I’m sorry Danella you really seem nice and it’s nothing personal.

 

John heard Danella’s gasp of fear. He staggered to his feet with a cry of terror. “NOOO,” he screamed. He heard the crack of the gun and Dani’s gasp abruptly cut off and something landed heavily on the floor. John sank to his knees. Tears coursed down his face. “DANI…” The sound of his wail of sorrow sent shivers up Gayle’s spine. “Oh God…Oh God,” he moaned, rocking softly. “WHAT DID YOU DO…YOU BITCH,” he screamed in grief.

 

Gayle became enraged. She slammed the gun against his head viciously…Johnny fell. His head struck the coffee table and he felt nothing more. Gayle stood there in shock. “Johnny…?” She whispered as she knelt beside him. Her fingers found his carotid. His pulse beat weakly beneath her fingers. Gayle stood in indecision. She could hear the sirens in the distance and she knew she couldn’t get him into the car by herself…She’d planned for him to walk. She’d have to come back for him but at least one part of her plan had been achieved. Danella was dead.

 

The girl was out of his life forever and she’d make him forget her. Gayle knelt next to Johnny. “I love you,” she whispered. She kissed him gently. “I’ll be back for you,” she promised his unconscious form. She ran for the door and climbed into her car. She sped away, disappearing around the corner as police cars, fire trucks and one rescue squad pulled up in front of the house.

 

Roy climbed out and raced toward the house but he was intercepted by two officers. They grabbed him and pulled him back. “My friends in there,” he yelled trying to break free.

 

“C’mon pal,” Cap said gently as he took Roy away from the police and led him back toward the engine. “Let them do their job and then we’ll do ours.” Roy tried desperately to shake Hanks hands from him but found Mike, Marco, Chet and Chuck in his path as well. He finally gave up, slumping in defeat.

 

One officer ran to the police car parked in front of the house. He took one look and backed away as his hand covered his mouth in shocked horror. His eyes said it all. Sean Grayson was beyond his help.

 

The officers advanced carefully toward the house. One gave a quick glance in the front window. He pulled back and held up two fingers and then dropped them down. The others nodded.

 

“What does that mean?” Chuck asked.

 

“Two down,” Roy whispered in fear. The officer standing with them nodded in agreement. They took up positions on either side of the door. One finally nodded and reached out to flip the door open…They charged inside. One stopped to check for a pulse on Johnny. He nodded briefly while the other reached for Dani’s throat.

 

 “Doesn’t look good but she’s alive,” he whispered.

 

Several others joined them and began to move room to room, checking everywhere. They finally deemed it clear and waved the others in. Roy ran for the house with the drug box while Chuck followed with the trauma box and O2. Chet carried the Biophone. Roy was on his knees next to Johnny before they were inside. His fingers found the carotid and he sagged in relief. He began to search for the source of the blood staining his carpet.

 

“Head wounds…Two on the side, one in the back,” he informed Watson. “Cap…Start him on O2,” he instructed as he moved to Chuck’s side as he began to check Danella. “Oh my God,” he whispered as he saw the wound…Dead center of her chest. He felt for a pulse and found a weak flutter… “She’s alive…Get Rampart on the horn,” he ordered as he rolled her carefully onto her side to check for an exit wound and to cut the ropes that bound her hands.

 

Chet nodded as Cap gently rolled Johnny to the side and cut the ropes binding his hands and eased them out from under him. He laid a comforting hand on his forehead. “We’re here son…Take it easy,” he said softly. Chet’s eyes filled with tears but he turned his attention back to the Biophone. “Rampart base…This is rescue 51.”

 

“Go ahead 51.” Joe Early’s voice came back.

 

“We have two victims…First victim is a twenty year old female. She has a gunshot wound to the chest. She’s unconscious Rampart and she’s lost a lot of blood. Her BP is 80/60, pulse is weak…almost undetectable. Respirations are shallow.”

 

“Get her on O2 51…Start an IV…D5W TKO, draw a redtop and get her in here on the double.”

 

“10-4 Rampart…The second victim is a twenty six year old male. He’s suffering from head trauma on  the back of his head and two separate injuries on the left side. He also has multiple bruises on his face. BP is 130/90…Pulse is 80 and his respirations are 20. He’s unconscious at this time.”

 

“Start an IV 51…Ringers lactate. Immobilize his head as a precaution and transport.” Joe’s voice came back calmly.

 

“10-4 Rampart…” Chet acknowledged, repeating the instructions to Roy and Chuck.

 

The two paramedics worked side by side and a short time later they were ready to transport. They loaded Dani first and returned a moment later for Johnny. The police were busily taping off the house as Roy climbed inside the ambulance. They pulled away…Sirens blaring.

 

Roy’s hand came to rest on Johnny’s forehead, smoothing the dark hair back.  “Its’ gonna be alright Junior,” he said soothingly. “You’re gonna be alright.” He looked to Dani, knowing Johnny would never be alright again if the girl didn’t make it.

 

 

They backed into Rampart ten minutes later. Dixie waited at the open ER doors. They pulled the first gurney out and the blonde nurse gasped in horror. “Danella…!” Her blue eyes flew to Roy as he stepped down from the ambulance with a grim look on his face. He turned back to help them pull John’s stretcher from the back. “Johnny,” she cried in shock. “Roy… What happened?”

 

“Gayle Markson.”

 

“Oh dear God,” she whispered. Then her professionalism kicked in once again. “Treatment three,” she instructed nodding at Dani’s prone form. “Treatment five,” she directed Roy as he walked beside Johnny. They rushed them both inside. Chuck accompanied Danella to where Joe Early waited.

 

The engine crew followed a few minutes later.

 

Roy helped them make the transfer from gurney to table and then backed away as Brackett shoved the door open and came to the table. Two nurses followed and began to work on Johnny. “What happened Roy?” Brackett asked gently.

“I don’t know Doc. Gayle Markson most likely hit him with something and he fell…There’s blood on the coffee table.”

 

“At least she didn’t get away with him…We might never have found him.” Kel said with a shake of his dark head. He glanced at the nurse. “Carol…Get X-Ray down here stat. I want a full skull series and get Fisher down here as soon as he’s available.” She nodded and ran for the phone. “Have you called Jo and Danella yet?” At Roy’s grim look he stopped. “What is it Roy?” Then he remembered Joe’s update…Two victims…Twenty six year old male and a twenty year old female… “No…God Roy…Not Danella…?”

 

Roy nodded, “Yeah Doc.”

 

“But how…? She was in San Diego.”

 

“Gayle found out about her somehow…She musta followed them or something…I don’t know but she kidnapped her this morning and brought her here…” John’s soft moan brought the conversation to a halt and Roy moved to his side. “Shhh junior…I’m here,” he whispered close to his ear. John didn’t open his eyes…He lapsed back into unconsciousness.

 

Dixie burst through the door a moment later. “They’re taking Danella to surgery,” she announced with tears in her eyes. “They don’t think…,” she stopped to regain her composure. “They don’t think she’s going to make it.”

 

Roy’s eyes pooled with tears. How could this be happening? This should have been the happiest time of John’s life and everything was going wrong. How could he break this to his best friend after everything he’s been through?  “How bad…?” He whispered.

 

“The bullet nicked the aorta…She was bleeding heavily when they brought her in. Joe’s with her and they’ve called in Ashford.”

 

“He’s the best cardiac surgeon we’ve got Roy. If anyone can save her, he can,” Kel said encouragingly.

 

Roy’s blue eyes were filled with despair as his hand dropped to cup John’s cheek. “It’ll kill him,” he whispered. He looked up at Kel and Dixie. "If she dies…It’ll kill him.”

 

“No it won’t Roy because we’ll all be there…You’ll be there for him and we’ll get him through.”

 

Roy shook his head. “How much more can he take Doc?” He snapped in grief.

 

“Whatever he has to to live Roy…John’s a survivor…We all know that.”

 

Roy sniffed back tears as the door opened and the technician entered pushing the portable X-Ray machine into the room. They were forced to leave.

 

Roy went to find the engine crew in the doctor’s lounge. “How are they?” Cap asked worriedly.

 

“They’re doing X-Rays on John’s head right now. Dani’s in surgery. They ahh…They don’t think she’ll make it.” They all looked at Roy in horror as he continued. “The bullet nicked the Aorta…She um…Lost way too much blood…”

 

“That’ll destroy Gage,” Chet muttered.

 

“This is so unreal,” Mike half whispered.

 

“It’s not fair,” Marco said angrily. “Johnny and Danella don’t deserve this…It’s not fair.”

 

Hank patted Lopez’s arm. “We know Marco.”

 

“Those two were so perfect…He loves her so much,” the Mexican man protested this fate. They all sat down on the couch…Sorrow weighing heavily on their hearts. Marco shot to his feet a moment later. “I’m going to the Chapel.”

 

Chet looked up. “I uh…Think I’ll go too.”

 

Mike stood… “Wait for me.”

 

Cap smiled at Roy as his men left the room to do the only thing they could do for Johnny and Danella…Pray for a greater hand to step in. “Might as well join em,” Hank said as he stood up.

 

“Yeah Cap…Say one for me would ya? I’ve got to get back to Johnny.” Cap nodded.

 

Chuck stood there looking a bit lost and out of place for a moment. “Uh…Roy…I um…Don’t know John real well but…I’m goin to the Chapel too.”

 

Roy smiled. “Thanks Chuck.” He nodded and left.

 

The engine crew was called out an hour later. Chuck took the squad back to the station to meet Roy’s replacement.

 

 

Roy had returned to John’s side as soon as the X-Ray tech had left. Kel stitched the wounds on the side of his head and carefully studied the films a short time later. He leaned in close for a better look.

 

“Something wrong…?” Roy asked worriedly.

 

“Not wrong exactly…But not right either. The fracture healed very well and it doesn’t look like he fractured anything when he fell this time but…”

 

“But what Doc…? Why is he still unconscious?”

 

Kel patted the arm of the concerned younger man. “He has a very severe concussion.” Roy looked at him suspiciously…There was more and Brackett wasn’t telling him. “I’m going to move him to a room soon and then I want Joe and Fisher to look at these films and we’ll do that EEG we scheduled for tomorrow.”

 

“Why?” Roy asked as his blue eyes scanned the X-Rays.

 

“Don’t worry Roy…Just trust me okay?”

 

He nodded hesitantly. “Doc…Can you check on Danella for me. I don’t want to leave Johnny.”

 

“Sure Roy…I’ll be up to be sure he’s settled in a while and I’ll let you know then.”

 

 

Dr. Fisher looked at the latest X-Rays on John Gage that Brackett had sent up. He frowned. “Well…Well…How did I miss you?” He muttered.

 

 

Kel went to the O.R. and suited up. He made his way into the room where Joe and Dr. Ashford were finishing up. Joe Early raised tired blue eyes to meet his. “How is she?” the younger doctor asked.

 

“She’s coded on us twice,” Joe said in concern… “But we’re almost done.”

 

Dr. Ashford looked up from what he was doing. “Another eighth of an inch to the left and there would have been nothing we could have done.”

 

“That doesn’t sound very promising.”

 

“It’s not Kel…She’s lost a lot of blood…She’s very weak and her hearts already stopped twice.”

 

“Yeah…But she’s got something you haven’t seen.”

 

“What’s that?”


“Determination…She never gives up.”

 

“Kinda like John huh Kel…?” Joe questioned.

 

Brackett smiled behind his mask. “They’re a perfect match.”

 


Kel went to John’s room. Roy sat next to his friend…He held the long, slender fingers gently in his hand… the other was absently sweeping the sable hair from John’s forehead. John moaned softly but as before he slipped back into unconsciousness.

 

“Roy?” Kel called softly.

 

“Yeah…?” He asked turning to look at Kel without stopping the motion.

 

“Danella’s out of surgery.”

 

“How is she?”

 

“She coded twice Roy…” The blue eyes closed in despair and his head lowered to rest his forehead against John’s for a moment. “Ashford’s only giving her one in a hundred chance Roy. She’s critical.”

 

“How am I gonna tell him Doc?” He asked as he lightly brushed his hand through John’s dark hair. “It’ll kill him.”

 

“He’s strong Roy…Stronger than any of us sometimes despite everything he’s been through and all his emotional issues…He’s strong and he’ll survive because you and Joanne and the rest of his friends will be there to get him through…Kicking and screaming if necessary but he’ll find his way and he’ll battle through just as long as he has you. You’re his rock.”

 

Roy nodded…Johnny had told him the same thing just yesterday but then he’d still had Danella safely tucked away in San Diego…Or so they’d thought. “God I hope you’re right. She has to live…I can’t bear to see him hurt again…Not again,” he whispered as he squeezed John’s fingers and rested his chin on the clasped hands.

 

Fisher stepped into the room with John’s X-Rays. “Kel…Roy. I want to show you these.” He looked at Brackett. “But I think you already saw this.” Kel nodded.

 

“What is it?” Roy asked, looking afraid. John couldn’t take anymore.

“The X-Rays show a couple of tiny bone fragments pressing on the Optic nerve. We probably missed them the first time because they were imbedded in the swollen tissue. I need to go in and remove them.”

 

“More surgery…?” Roy asked in frustration.

 

“Yes…But it will be minor and it could well be the reason for his lights and colors and his continual headaches. The nerves are healing but these are still irritating them…Keeping the nerve from functioning properly…Causing him pain.” Roy nodded.

 

“When…?”  He asked.

 

“I’ve already scheduled an O.R. I’d like to do this right now. Relieve the pressure because there is a potential for it to shift and sever the nerve completely. If that happens he’ll never regain his sight.”

 

Roy looked at Johnny. He nodded in resignation. “Go ahead.”

 

Fisher nodded and stepped into the hall. Two orderlies came inside and carefully lifted Johnny from the bed and onto a gurney. “Mind if I sit in?” Kel asked.

 

Jack shook his head. “I think Mr. DeSoto would appreciate it if you did,” he agreed with a smile.

 

Roy paced the room for two hours before Kel returned. “How is he?”

 

Brackett smiled. “He’s gonna be fine Roy. There’s a little swelling around where the fragments were located but the nerve is intact. Let’s see how he does when that goes down.”

 

Roy breathed out a sigh of relief. “Any word on Danella…?”

 

“She’s in the CCU Roy,” Kel shook his head. “She’s holding her own but Ashford’s still not holding out much hope.”

 

The younger man looked at the floor in dismay. “This isn’t right. She’s young and beautiful and in love and…I guess Marco said it all. It’s just not fair Doc.”

 

“No it isn’t but that’s one thing I’ve learned in emergency medicine Roy…Death is never fair.”

 

He nodded. “I guess I better call Cap and the guys. When will they bring Johnny back?”

 

“He’s in recovery…He still hasn’t regained consciousness but we’ll be bringing him back here in thirty minutes or so.”

 

“Thanks Doc.”

 

Roy picked up the phone.

 

 

Roy sat at his best friend’s side the entire night and as the sun began to rise he rubbed tired eyes and sat back in his chair. John’s head was once again wrapped in gauze…but much lighter this time.

 

“How many times partner? He whispered softly as his hand brushed a stray lock of dark hair from Johnny’s brow. “How many times have we played this scene? How many times can you flirt with death before it wins?” Roy stood up to stretch his back and wandered to the window to watch the sunrise.

 

A soft whisper of sound brought his head around. Johnny was shifting restlessly under the covers. His head tossed in agitation and a low moan escaped his lips. Roy moved quickly back to his friend’s side…His hand once again twining around John’s…Offering a silent reassurance that his friend was there and always would be.

 

John stirred again as the comforting contact penetrated his foggy, disoriented brain. “Roy,” he murmured.

 

“Junior? Can you hear me? C’mon Johnny, you’ve slept long enough…Time to wake up,” he urged his friend. Dark brown eyes cracked open and despite the fact that they’d been sightless for the last month they now tracked toward his partner.

 

John didn’t need to see to know who was at his bedside. Roy would be there for him and had been since the beginning of their friendship so long ago. John’s hand tightened around his friends and he grimaced painfully. “Danella…?” He whispered.

 

Roy swallowed hard. “Johnny…You need to relax okay…? You had surgery.”

 

“Surgery…?” he mumbled in confusion. Pain was beginning to make it’s presence known. “Why?” He whispered.

 

“To remove some bone fragments that were pressing on the nerve. They think that’s why you were still having problems.”

 

Memory began to seep in. “Where’s Dani Roy?”

 

“Johnny…”

 

“I heard the gunshot…Roy!” He panted suddenly struggling to sit up. “Tell me she isn’t…” he trailed off gasping for breath as pain washed through his head. He felt the strong hands of his partner grab his shoulders and force him back against the pillows.

 

“Johnny she’s alive. Calm down. She’s alive. She’s downstairs in the CCU. She was shot very close to the heart junior but they got the bullet out.”

 

Despite the pain, John was listening intently but he could hear the fear in Roy’s voice.  “She’s not gonna make it is she?”

 

Roy didn’t answer and John began to struggle to sit up once more. “Lay back Johnny…You’ve had surgery too and a severe concussion and you need to rest.”

 

“I want to be with her…She’s gonna die and I want…I want…” he trailed off still wrestling to break Roy’s hold.

 

“Calm down John,” Roy soothed as he pulled the younger man against him to still the frantic struggles.  “Shhh,” he soothed.

 

“She’s not gonna make it is she?” He asked again.

 

Roy couldn’t lie to him. “They don’t think so,” he whispered in his friend’s ear. The struggle stopped as if the softly spoken words had had some cathartic effect. Roy could feel John’s body shaking in his arms and then the tears began to flow faster and faster. All Roy could do was hold him…Rocking him gently in his arms. “Don’t leave me junior,” he whispered. “Stay with me.”

 

The older man knew John was under a tremendous amount of stress and could slip into withdrawal at any moment. He was desperately trying to make sure that didn’t happen. The tears continued until there was nothing left. John finally lay quietly against him, desperately trying to breathe as his head pounded relentlessly.

 

Roy laid him back on the bed. John’s reddened eyes were watery and listless. “This is my fault,” he whispered.

 

“NO Johnny…This is Gayle’s fault. You did everything you could to protect Dani,” Roy said fiercely. “You couldn’t know she’d find her…Hell we didn’t even know she knew about her.”

 

“Doesn’t matter…If she hadn’t been with me…”

 

“Stop right there John and I mean it. This is not your fault…None of it and Dani would tell you so.”

 

“Yeah…Maybe… If I hadn’t gotten her killed.” He turned his face away.

 

Roy turned John’s head back toward him. “Now you listen to me…Don’t you dare quit on her. She’s still breathin and she’s still fighting to live…She’s doing that for you, so don’t you quit on her,” Roy snapped.

 

John’s eyes pooled with tears once again but he blinked them away. “Has anyone contacted her family?”

 

“Yes. Dr. Brackett contacted Steve Handly. They’re getting her parents on a plane.

 

“God…They must hate me.”

 

“Stop it Johnny. You need to rest now.”

 

“I want to be with Dani…Please Roy. Just for a few minutes. I have to tell her…I…”

 

Roy looked at Johnny. He knew he was in a lot of pain and he was exhausted but he knew he’d never get him to sleep until he saw Danella. “Alright… I’ll see what I can do if you promise me you’ll stay calm and when I say enough you come back and rest without an argument?”

 

“Alright,” he murmured.

 

“Okay, just wait.” Roy left the room and called down to talk to Brackett. “He’s real upset Doc. He’s borderline and I’ll never get him to rest until he’s been with her.”

 

“Okay Roy…But you stay right with him and be ready. You can’t bring him out of withdrawal the usual way with that concussion and having just had surgery,”

 

“I know. Touch therapy works better anyway,” Roy replied.

 

“Keep him in that wheelchair and only ten minutes Roy. He should be resting.”

 

“Okay.” Roy retrieved a wheelchair and headed back to John’s room. “Okay Johnny let’s go. Doc says ten minutes…no more.”

 

Johnny struggled to sit up and Roy moved quickly to help him. He eased him to a sitting position. “Just swing your feet over junior and let me do the rest.”  John’s head pounded horribly and even without his sight the spinning sensation was miserable. John’s stomach rebelled and he heaved miserably and Roy leaned him gently over holding the basin until the retching stopped.  “Okay now?” Roy asked wiping John’s face with a handful of tissues. He tipped his head up carefully and helped him sip some water to rinse his mouth. “Better?”

 

“Yeah…” He gasped…Determined not to lose his chance to be with Danella.

 

Roy put his arm around John’s waist and helped him to stand long enough to turn him around and sit him in the chair. John was breathing heavily and his head hung as pain rolled like waves through his head. Roy squatted in front of him. “You gonna be okay?”

 

“Have to see Dani,” he mumbled, barely audible.

 

“Okay Junior.” Roy pushed him to the elevator. John struggled desperately to keep his stomach in place…Afraid that if he got sick again, Roy would take him back to his room. The struggle to stay conscious was even worse.

 

They left the elevator and Roy pushed him down the hall and into the CCU. The nurse had been notified that they were coming. “Third door on the left,” she said gently, seeing John’s struggle to stay upright and admiring his determination to be with the woman he loved. “Only a few minutes,” she warned.

 

Roy pushed John to Dani’s bedside. He took the younger man’s hand and placed it around the girls. “I’ll give you a few minutes junior,” he said softly as he backed away. He glanced at Danella. Tubes snaked around her body…The hiss of the oxygen feed and the beeping of the heart monitor was the only sound. She was pale and still absolutely, incredibly beautiful. “Sleeping Beauty,” Roy whispered softly.

 

Johnny’s fingers wrapped about Danella’s and he raised it to his lips. “Ne’mé‘hotâtse Ná’méhόt,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry Dani.” His voice hitched. “I’m sorry. Please don’t leave me…I need you,” he murmured. “God Dani…I can’t so this without you,” he gasped as he swayed in the chair. Roy moved to his side to take hold of his shoulders. “NO…NO. You said ten minutes. It hasn’t been ten minutes,” he pleaded as tears filled his eyes.

 

“Calm down. I’m gonna let you stay but you have to be calm and I’m not gonna let you fall outta the chair.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Roy smoothed the dark hair gently before moving away. “I love you Dani…When you wake up, we’ve got a lot of planning to do. We’ll have a beautiful wedding. You’ll be so beautiful,’ he whispered. John had begun to cry. “We’ll go somewhere great on our honeymoon. I’ve been saving. I want to take you somewhere beautiful…Would you like that? God Dani…Please wake up.” Roy’s blue eyes filled with tears at John’s desperate plea. “Dani please…” He swayed precariously in the chair.

 

“Okay Johnny that’s enough,” Roy said.

 

“No…No,” he gasped. “I…I wanna stay.”

 

“John you promised me…No arguments. You’ve had surgery and you have a major concussion and you need to rest.”

 

“Roy…”

 

“NO.”

 

John slumped in defeat. Roy pushed him back into the elevator. The younger man wiped his eyes as the doors closed. “She wanted me to make love to her Roy,” he whispered. “It’s all she asked of me but I wouldn’t. I kept saying I wanted to keep my word. That I wanted to see her.”

 

“You kept your word…She understood.”

 

“No…No she didn’t and now we’ll never have…,” he trailed off.

 

“Don’t give up Johnny. Every minute that passes is a step toward recovery.”

 

“God I…I wish I could go back…Give us that time…That memory. Give her what we both wanted.” This conversation was tearing him apart and John moaned as his stomach rolled. The motion of the wheelchair and the emotional struggle were taking its toll.

 

“Johnny you can’t upset yourself like this.”

 

John swallowed bringing it under control. “I was so selfish Roy. I kept saying I want…I WANT…Like what she wanted didn’t matter.”

 

Roy maneuvered the wheelchair into John’s room. He half lifted John onto the bed and laid him down. “You need to sleep now.”

 

“No…I…”

 

“Rest Junior…I mean it.” Roy’s fingers began a gentle stroke across Johnny’s forehead.

 

“Damn it Roy…That’s not fair,” John murmured as he fought desperately to stay awake but the pain and drowsiness caused by the concussion combined with the soothing motion of Roy’s hand finally won out…His dark eyes closed.

 

 

When Johnny woke again he thought he was alone. He was a bit surprised as Roy usually had to be pried from his bedside but he supposed he’d gone home to rest and change. Maybe this was a good thing. He needed to think. His head was throbbing and John pressed a shaky hand against his pounding forehead. His fingers found the bandage. He could feel the matching one on the back where his head had impacted the coffee table.

 

John tilted his head to listen to the sounds around him…It was late. He’d been a guest here enough to know that the silence of the corridors indicated that it was the middle of the night. Another soft sound intruded and John half smiled. Roy hadn’t left…He was asleep in the other bed. John would know that soft, quiet snore anywhere, he’d slept next to it every third day for the last six years.

 

Johnny pulled himself to a sitting position…His head swam and he had to stifle a groan of misery to avoid waking his friend. John swung his feet over the edge of the bed and pushed himself to his feet. His knees shook and he came precariously close to passing out but he fought off the dizziness. His stomach tried a quick roll but he swallowed that down as well. He had to get to Dani. He needed to be with her. He couldn’t bear to lose her but if she was gonna die…He had to be with her.

 

He shrugged into his robe and tottered to the door…finding it difficult to maintain his balance. His equilibrium once again completely off kilter. His fingers found the door. He pulled it open a crack. It was quiet. No squeak of nurses shoes, no conversation. No snap of charts being opened or closed. John knew the nurse’s station was deserted and that they tended to take breaks a bit more frequently this time of night.

 

His fingers found the number plate on the door. 312…John knew this hospital like the back of his hand and he remembered the route Roy had taken earlier though there hadn’t been anyway to count steps even had he been lucid enough to try but the basics were still there. John turned right and moved carefully up the hall…feeling along the wall with one hand …The other outstretched to avoid running into anything…He missed his cane.

 

He stopped several times to listen for the sound of footsteps. His hand finally located the door to the stairwell. The heavy metal panel made it obvious. John pushed it open quietly and crept inside…Feeling safe for the moment. He stopped to rest. His head was throbbing a rhythm that would have rivaled any rock and roll band. He rested his forehead against the cool concrete wall, waiting for the dizziness and nausea to pass. He swallowed hard to keep his stomach where it belonged. He finally began to move once more.

 

He took hold of the banister and began to descend. It took him some time but he managed to make it to the second floor. He opened the door cautiously, letting it close partway as he heard the telltale sound of a nurses rubber soled shoes squeak against the floor. He waited for her to pass.

 

CCU was at the end of this hall. He only had a short distance to go but then he had to get past the nurse’s station. He stopped at the end of the corridor just around the corner from the entrance. He was exhausted. Sweat beaded his brow and he leaned against the wall. He could hear the soft sound of conversation as the two nurses exchanged notes.

 

“Mr. Jacobs was throwing PVC’s this afternoon. Dr. Morton said to watch him carefully.”

 

“Dr. Ashford was pretty grim over Miss Four Feather’s lack of progress,” she said sadly.

 

“What a shame,” the other said. “She’s such a beautiful girl.”

 

“Beth said Johnny was up here earlier today. She said he looked like he was gonna pass out himself but he was determined to be with her. Roy had to force him back to his room.”

 

“It’s not fair. I mean I know I wanted to go out with him myself but honestly…They looked so good together, how could I compete?”

 

“He loves her so much…He’s gonna be crushed if she doesn’t make it.” Johnny eyes filled with tears.

 

“I know…And on top of his own injuries and being blind…It’s just not right.”

 

They grew quiet and the two shuffled a few more papers. “Want some coffee Joan?”

 

“Yeah…Everyone looks good so I think it’s safe to grab a cup as long as we get right back.”

 

John heard the chairs scoot back and the soft slap of their shoes as they pushed open the door. He flattened himself against the wall, holding his breath and then blew out a silent sigh of relief that the coffee room was in the other direction. Their voices faded away.

 

John found the door and slipped inside. He felt his way along the wall, remembering Beth’s instructions to Roy. ‘Third door on the left…’ John moved carefully…Finally finding the door. He ducked inside. He found his way to the bed by following the beeping of the heart monitor.

 

John slid gratefully into the chair. He rested his aching head on the mattress for a moment, trying to catch his breath and get his stomach under control.

 

The drums pounding in his head settled down a bit and Johnny finally raised his head. His fingers found Danella’s hand and curled around it. “I’m here baby,” he whispered softly as he kissed the delicate skin. His fingers caressed her arm. “I love you Dani. Please, please fight. I need you. John’s hand found the smooth skin of Danella’s cheek. He leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on her forehead, careful not to disturb the oxygen mask or tubes that encircled the girl like tentacles. His fingers stroked her hair back as he lifted her hand to his lips. “Please stay with me,” he whispered. Tears slid down his cheeks. “I love you…I will always love you. There’ll never be another woman Danella,” he gasped. “God…Please…Please don’t take her…Not her.”

 

His head spun wildly. The stress was too much. He laid his head on the mattress…The girls hand clutched in his own as he drifted into unconsciousness. He didn’t feel the soft squeeze of Danella’s fingers.

 

 

Danella was peacefully floating in space. She was waiting for Johnny but he seemed so long coming to her. She wondered if she should go to find him but she couldn’t move. She suddenly heard his voice but it was distant…As if through a tunnel.

 

“I’m here baby.”

 

She felt his lips caress her fingers and desperately wanted to open her eyes but couldn’t make them obey.

 

“I love you Dani.”

 

She tried to open her mouth to tell him that she loved him too but no sound emerged. What was happening to her? Why couldn’t she get her body to do what she wanted it to? She felt so tired.

 

“Please…Please fight. I need you.”

 

Fight? What was she fighting? She felt the touch of his hand against her cheek, his lips pressed against her forehead. She wanted to tell him she needed him too. That she’d be okay but no words would come. She felt his fingers gently stroke her hair back.

 

“Please…Please stay with me?”

Why was he crying? How could he even ask? She’d never leave him. She wanted to comfort him…He sounded so desolate but she couldn’t open her eyes or her mouth to move. So she tried anything she could think of. Her hand tightened briefly but he didn’t respond. She felt a pressure in her chest and pain flared. Something warm flooded her veins and she drifted away again.

 

 

 

Roy woke with a start. He wasn’t exactly sure what had jerked him from sleep so he laid there in the darkened room trying to organize his thoughts. It suddenly occurred to him what the problem was. Johnny was quiet…Too quiet. Roy sat up quickly and looked over at John’s bed. It was empty. The bathroom door stood open. “Damn it John,” he growled as he jumped from the bed.

 

He stepped into the dimly lit and deserted hallway. No sign of him anywhere but Roy knew there was only one place Johnny would be. He headed for the stairwell, knowing John wouldn’t have risked the noise the elevators would have made. He pushed the door open and started down.

 

Well that was a relief…There was no body on the stairs so at least he hadn’t fallen or passed out in the stairwell. Roy pushed the door open and stepped out into the corridor. He made his way to the CCU. The young woman seated at the desk looked up at him in surprise. “Roy? What are you doing here? It’s three in the morning.”

 

“I’m looking for Johnny. He’s not in his room.”

 

“He’s not here Roy. We’d have seen him. Would you like me to call security?”

 

“Elaine?” Joan called from up the hall.

 

“Hold on Roy,” she said as she turned to her co worker. “What’s wrong?”

 

She pointed into Danella’s room. “John Gage is in here.”

 

Elaine’s eyes widened in shock… “How in the world…?” She waved Roy in and they headed down the hall together, stopping at Dani’s door. Roy bit his lower lip in sympathy. John sat beside Danella, her hand clutched tightly in his. The dark head rested on the mattress. His lips pressed against her hand. The other was tangled in her raven hair.

 

“Can you get me a gurney?” Roy asked as he moved to John’s side.

 

“Sure Roy,” Elaine said as she brushed the moisture from her eyes.

 

Joan checked Danella over. Her heart monitor was beeping a bit erratically but she seemed peaceful as the nurse injected her medication into her IV port.

 

“Johnny…Can you hear me junior?” Roy questioned quietly.

 

John moaned softly. Roy gently brushed the hair from John’s face. He carefully disentangled the young man’s fingers from Dani’s hair and pried his fingers loose from the girls. John jerked slightly at the lost contact before sliding back into unconsciousness. Elaine came in with the gurney.

 

“Do you need help?”  She asked quietly.

 

“No, I’ve got him,” Roy assured her as he gently pulled his friend to a sitting position. He leaned John’s head against his shoulder so it wouldn’t fall backward before he carefully lifted Johnny into his arms and set him on the gurney.

 

“I’m sorry Roy…I don’t know how he got past us,” Joan said contritely, looking embarrassed that a blind man had managed to walk right by them.  “It must have been when we went for coffee.”

 

“It’s alright,” Roy assured her. “He’s pretty good at that when he wants too and he’s okay so let’s just get him back to bed,” Roy said quietly as he pushed the gurney toward the elevator. He got Johnny back to his room just as the younger man began to stir. His head jerked from side to side before he relaxed once more. “What am I gonna do with you junior?” Roy questioned softly as he lifted John in his arms once more and laid him on the bed.

 

“Mmmm Roy…?” He murmured.

 

“Yeah it’s me junior,” Roy said as he pulled the covers over his friend. He smoothed the sable hair from John’s face until the younger man dropped off once more. Roy sighed and sat in the chair, determined not to let John pull another disappearing act.

 

Roy woke several hours later to a gentle hand brushing his cheek. His blue eyes opened to see Joanne leaning over him. She kissed him softly.

 

“Jo? What are you doing here?”

 

“I got here late last night honey. I stayed with Eileen. The kids are with her. How’s Johnny?” She asked as she moved to the bed, taking in the bruises that showed in stark contrast to the paleness of his skin and the bright whiteness of the bandages. She kissed the younger man’s mouth and swept the dark, sleep tangled hair from his forehead with her fingertips.

 

“He had surgery again to remove a couple of bone fragments they missed the first time and he has a severe concussion but he’s gonna be okay if he stops sneaking out in the middle of the night.”

 

“HE WHAT…?”

 

“I don’t know how he did it but he made it all the way down to the CCU. I found him there at three o’clock this morning. Brackett’s gonna kill him.”

 

“Oh baby,” she whispered sympathetically as she gazed down at the sleeping young man. “How’s Danella?”

 

Roy shook his head. “Dr. Ashford isn’t very hopeful. He saw her last night but she’s still critical. She’s very weak and she’s not showing a lot of improvement,” he said with a sigh.

 

“Does Johnny know?”

 

“Yes,” came the soft answer from the bed. They looked at Johnny. His eyes were cracked open. They looked tired and they were filled with pain but the older couple was unable to tell what hurt more…his head or his heart.

 

Roy stood up to lean over him. “How ya feelin…?”

 

“My head hurts,” he replied softly.

 

“Your ass is gonna hurt too if you pull another stunt like last nights.”

 

“I had to be with her. How is she?”

 

“I don’t know Johnny, I’ll check for you in a minute but I’m very serious…You pull that again and I’ll put the restraints on you myself,” Roy warned.

 

John’s face paled even more. “You wouldn’t do that,” he breathed in disbelief.

 

“Try me.” John bit his lip nervously as his friend continued. “You’ve just had brain surgery. You have a very serious concussion. You could have passed out in the stairwell…Fallen. Did you think of that?” Roy barked.

 

“Yes…But I didn’t.”

 

“You got LUCKY. You may not be the next time…Promise me.”

 

“But Dani…,” he began.

 

“You’re no good to her in a coma or dead are you?”

 

“No,” he whispered. “But I needed to be with her…In case,” he said drawing a hitched breath as tears welled once again.

 

Roy’s heart broke at the pain in those brown eyes but he couldn’t have Johnny trying this again. “I understand but I still want your promise. I’ll take you down there as much as possible but you don’t go on your own okay?”

 

“Okay…”

 

“Promise…!”

 

“I promise.”

 

“Alright…Let me see what I can find out. Jo’s here junior and she’s gonna keep you company for a minute.”

 

“Hi baby,” Jo greeted, kissing his cheek.

 

“Morning Jo…”

 

“Can I get you anything?”

 

“No thanks. Um…Jo? Is there any word on Gayle…I mean….Have they found her?” 

 

“No sweetheart,” she said softly.

 

Johnny sighed in disappointment. Roy came back in pushing a wheelchair in front of him. “Dr. Early’s with Dani. He said you can see her for a few minutes junior,” Roy informed him as he parked the chair and moved to help his partner.

 

“Thanks,” he said as he struggled to sit up.  His head setup an immediate protest and then lights began to dance before him. His eyes focused on the well known face in front of him for a few seconds and then faded once more to black…John’s eyes widened in surprise. “ROY…Roy I saw you.”

 

“What?”

 

“Just for a second but…I…I saw your face,” John said as he reached out to touch Roy’s cheek with his fingers.

 

“Oh baby that’s wonderful,” Jo gasped.

 

“That’s fantastic,” he hugged John tightly for just a moment and then set him back away from him and was a little surprised by the look of sorrow. “What Johnny? What’s wrong?”

 

“If I lose Dani…What difference would being able to see make? The world would still be dark.”

 

Jo bit her lip in sympathy.  Roy reached out to touch the younger man’s face. “John…You’re right…It would be for a very long time. When I thought you were dead…I felt like that too.” John threw him a small sad smile. “But eventually the light would return.”

 

John shook his head, “Not without her.” Tears trickled down his cheeks.

 

“John…I won’t lie to you…You may never find another woman who makes you feel the way she does but I know you…You’d still go on because it’s how you’re made. You’re a survivor and I’ll be there to help you if it should come to that.”

 

“So will I sweetheart,” Jo said, brushing the tears from his cheeks with her fingers. John’s breath hitched once before he blinked the tears away.

“I want to go to Dani…”

 

“Okay Junior.” Roy eased him into the chair and waited for John to signal him that the dizziness and nausea had passed. Johnny raised his hand weakly and Roy pushed him from the room with Jo alongside.

 

They entered the CCU a few minutes later. The murmur of several voices carried to him as they approached her room. “Dr. Early’s, Dr. Ashford and Four Feathers.

 

John lifted his head… “Oh God Roy…Her father’s here… How can I face him? What can I say to him?” He whispered forlornly.

 

“About what my son…?” A deep voice questioned.

 

John’s head turned toward the sound of his voice…His dark eyes were filled with sorrow. “I’m so sorry…I couldn’t help her,” he whispered. “I couldn’t protect her. I’d give my life for hers if I could Four Feathers,” John gasped.

 

He felt a strong hand cup the side of his face. “I know you would John but I also know that what happened was not your fault. The fault lies with the woman who did this to my daughter.”

 

“She did it because of me,” John said lowering his head in shame, determined to bear the blame.

 

Four Feathers knelt before the younger man. He raised John’s head gently. “You listen to me. Once before I laid the blame for another’s acts on your head and my daughter set me straight in no uncertain terms. I will not make that mistake again or she’d flay the heart from my chest with her tongue. You are only responsible for what you do my son…Not others…To do good or evil is their choice, understand?”

 

John blinked hard. He’d been given absolution but he wasn’t sure he wanted it. He nodded hesitantly. “Yes.”

 

“Good…Now come and see Danella…It will do her good…”

 

The stress on John’s nerves was tremendous and his head was pounding from it. His stomach rolled uncomfortably as dizziness washed over him in waves. He moaned pitifully before his stomach heaved. Roy managed to snag a trash can before Johnny lost the contents of his stomach which thankfully wasn’t that much. Dry heaves racked his body for several seconds. Roy held his head until it stopped.

 

John gasped in misery as Joanne came from the bathroom with a wet towel to wipe his mouth. A nurse handed him a glass of water and took the trash can from him.  “Here junior…Take a sip.” He held the glass to John’s mouth, letting him sip the water. “Rinse…,” he directed.

 

John obediently swirled the water in his mouth before spitting it into the trash can. The nurse grinned before carrying it away.

 

“Okay now?” Roy asked. John nodded and Roy pushed him to Danella’s side. John’s hand flailed, trying to locate Dani’s. He felt someone take hold of it and lay it over hers. He lifted it to his lips to kiss it gently.

There were several gasps from the others but John didn’t know why until a weak whisper reached him. “Ná’méhόt…”

 

 

 Danella was once again afloat but voices intruded on her peaceful sleep. A persistent beeping was becoming annoying but she recognized the sound…A heart monitor. Why would she have a heart monitor in her room? The thought flitted away as another voice intruded...Her father’s. Her mother’s voice soon followed.

 

A burning pain seemed to press on her chest and a weak, almost inaudible moan escaped her lips but it was enough for the nurse to immediately move to her side to inject a painkiller into her IV port. The pressure and the pain receded but the voices were still there, speaking softly.

 

A new voice penetrated and a short time later she felt her hand grasped. She knew who it was immediately. “Ná’méhόt…,” she murmured weakly.

 

 

“Oh God,” John breathed out softly as tears began to fall. “Dani…?” He gasped trying to stand. Roy wrapped his arm around Johnny’s waist, helping him to his feet and close to Danella. John’s hand reached out and caught his, guiding it to Danella’s cheek. Johnny leaned over her. “Ne’mé‘hotâtse Dani,” he whispered as he kissed her gently. 

 

“Ne’mé‘hotâtse…,” she whispered.

 

“I was afraid I’d lost you.”

 

“N…no es…cape for you N… Ná’méhόt...”

 

“I don’t ever want to,” he replied kissing her again…He pulled back, raising her hand to her lips to kiss her fingers tenderly. Her fingers turned in his grip to cup his cheek before falling limp.

 

“DANI…?” He called fearfully as his knees shook with weakness.

 

Roy grabbed him before he could fall. “Let’s get you back in the chair.”

 

“Dani,” he cried again, trying to fight Roy’s hands off.

 

“Johnny…She’s just asleep…She’s still very weak and she’s asleep…Just like you should be. Now sit,” he commanded. “You shouldn’t even be out of bed much less on your feet?” John sagged tiredly into the seat.

 

“Both of you need to rest,” Joe Early interposed sternly. He looked at Roy and nodded to the door.

 

“No I…,” John protested as the chair began to move.  “I wanna stay…Please Roy.”

 

“Room… now,” Joe ordered sternly. “You need to rest and you can’t do that in that chair…Now…”

 

Roy nodded and pushed John toward the door as Jo followed. “Roy…,” he pleaded.

 

“NO.”

 

The one word stopped the argument instantly and John sighed in resignation. He could usually talk his friend around but he knew this tone in his friend’s voice. It was the same one he used when John wanted to do something stupid or dangerous. The one he used when he was done arguing and just before he played the seniority card and the one he used with his kids when he meant business. John knew no amount of pleading would budge him.

 

John slumped in his seat. “Okay,” he mumbled in defeat.

 

The others grinned while John hung his head like a child whose just been rebuked by his father.

 

Roy and Joanne got him back to his room and helped him into bed. When the door opened…Dixie, Kelly Brackett and Jack Fisher came in.

 

Kel frowned at Johnny… “I heard about that little stunt you pulled John. I believe I promised you if that ever happened again I’d put you in restraints.”

 

John paled… “I…I didn’t l…leave the h…hospital,” he mumbled.

 

“I already promised him I’d do it myself if he did it again Doc,” Roy interceded.

 

Kel scowled while Fisher covered his mouth with his hand to hold back the snort of laughter that threatened to escape. John Gage was incorrigible and the young man simply had no idea how much these people cared about him…Worried over him. John bit his lip nervously as he waited for Brackett’s response.

 

Kel sighed at the frightened look. He knew as well as Roy did that neither of them would ever deliberately terrorize John like that. “Alright Roy…I’ll let you handle it.”

 

John breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks Doc.”

 

 

“Doc…John had a few seconds this morning when he could see me,” Roy said.

 

Fisher and Kel exchanged a glance. “Let’s take a look,” Jack said as he pulled his penlight. He flicked it back and forth over John’s eyes for a few seconds and turned to the other two with a grin. “There’s good response,” he assured them. “It’s not where it should be obviously but there is dilation.”

 

Roy and Brackett smiled back. “That’s good news,” Roy said excitedly.

 

“Now I’m going give you the bad news.” They all frowned. “I’m going to cover your eyes for a few days John.”

 

“Why? I saw Roy…I…”

 

“I know that John but what I don’t want is you straining your eyes, trying to see what you can’t.”

 

The younger man sighed. “Kay,” he agreed reluctantly.

 

Dixie stepped out the door and signaled a nurse. She spoke to her for a moment and came back inside. “Johnny…I um heard about Danella waking up.”

 

John grinned. “Isn’t that great Doc?”

 

“It is but I want you to understand Johnny that she’s not out of the woods.  She’s still critical.”

 

The smile faded. “What are you saying?”

 

“I’m not trying to scare you…I just want to be very clear that it’s still touch and go…”

 

John chewed his lip. “Okay,” he murmured.

 

The nurse came in with a tray and handed it to Dixie. She brought it to Dr. Fisher. “Okay Johnny…Here we go,” he warned. Jack taped a pad in place over each of John’s eyes and unwound a roll of kerlex around his head to hold it in place.

 

John sat stoically through the whole procedure and Fisher patted his arm when he was done. “It’s just for a few days John okay?”

“Kay.” Fisher left. Dixie planted a light kiss on his forehead. “Your Captain and the rest of your crew are on their way over.”

 

“Thanks Dix.”

 

Kel turned back to the DeSoto’s and his patient. “John…I want you to stay in bed the rest of the day…No sneaking off.”

 

“But Doc…”

 

“I can sedate you if you if necessary,” Kel threatened.

 

John sighed in defeat. “Alright…”

 

Kel relented. “If you’re a good boy I’ll let you up to see Danella for a few minutes tonight.”

 

John perked up a bit. “Okay,” he agreed eagerly…The promised reward more tempting than the indignation at Kel’s teasing.

 

“Roy…See that he stays put,” Kel said as he and Dixie left.

 

The older paramedic turned back to his friend. “Okay Junior…Time to sleep.”

 

“I can’t sleep Roy. Brackett said Danella wasn’t out of danger…She was awake Roy…I couldn’t see her…How did she look?”

 

The questions were coming faster than Roy could answer and he smiled with amused tolerance for his friend. His hand slipped to John’s forehead, pressing him gently back on the pillows. “Go to sleep Johnny.”

 

“But ROY…”

 

The older man’s fingers swept the shaggy sable hair from John’s forehead. “Stop that Roy,” Johnny grumbled, half heartedly swatting at his friends hand and bringing a chuckle from the older man.

 

“Quit Johnny,” he retorted fondly as he caught John’s hand and continued to gently stroke his brow. “Close your eyes junior.”

 

“Roy…That’s not fair,” John argued drowsily.

 

“John…You’re running on adrenaline. You’re exhausted and you need to sleep. You can see Dani tonight after you get some rest okay?”  John’s eyes were closing beneath the bandages as Roy continued. “I’ll have them send up your lunch and the guys will be here to visit and after dinner I’ll take you down to see Dani.”

 

John’s head rolled to the side as he dropped off to sleep. Joanne grinned at her husband. “I need to get back to the kids.” She kissed her husband goodbye and swept her fingers lightly through John’s hair and brushed a kiss on his lips. “I’ll see you both tomorrow,” she promised. “I’m going to go downstairs for a minute to see Dani.”

 

Roy nodded as she headed for the door. “Jo?”

 

“Yes?” She asked turning back.

 

“Have a guard walk you to the car. I’ll call Doug and have an officer sent to Eileen’s.”

 

Jo nodded, looking a little worried. “Okay,” she agreed quietly.

 

She didn’t notice the tan Buick with the pretty blonde inside as the guard escorted her to her car a half hour later.

 

 

The police were arriving on the scene of a single car crash about the time Johnny was sliding into sleep.

 

At the bottom of a steep drop, the remains of a 1973 green mustang lay on its roof.  The smoldering wreck was almost unrecognizable. One of the firemen on the scene finally pried the door open and looked inside but almost immediately turned away. The fire fighters eyes caught officer Vince Howards eyes and he shook his head. The body was burned beyond recognition.

 

The officer waved to the coroner who made his way down to the accident site. “We need to be sure this is Gayle Markson,” Vince told him. He desperately hoped so for Johnny and Danella’s sake.

 

The coroner glanced at the body…He had his work cut out for him. He bagged the body for transport.

 

John woke later that afternoon to find Roy entertaining the station crew. Hank saw the slight turn of his head and their direction and moved to his side. “Hi John…How are you feeling?”

 

“My head still hurts and I’m a bit nauseas Cap but it’s better than it has been.”

 

“Great…”

 

“Hey John,” Marco greeted. “Roy told us about you being able to see a bit,” the Latino said excitedly.

John nodded. “Tough luck about having to have your eyes covered anyway,” Chet added regretfully.

 

“It’s only for a few days…It’s not like it changed the view,” he quipped.

 

The others chuckled. He told us Danella woke up today too.”

 

“Yeah…But Brackett said not to get too excited. He said she was still critical.”

 

“She’s a fighter John…She loves you too much to give up,” Mike said encouragingly.

 

“Man…I hope so,” he added quietly. “He said I could see her for a while tonight.”

 

“Ten minutes John…That’s all. You still need to rest,” Roy added.

 

John sighed in frustration. “I feel much better Roy.”

 

“John you’d tell me that if you felt like you had an elephant sitting on your head.”

 

The others laughed at the indignant look on the younger man’s face and Roy shook his head in irritation.

 

“Any word on Gayle Roy…?” Hank asked somberly.

 

He shook his head. “She’s still out there Cap but the police feel John should be safe enough here and I’m staying in the room. Jo is at her sister’s house and Danella is in the CCU where they figure only a blind man can sneak into.” The others looked confused but John had the good graces to blush while the older man explained. “He snuck out this morning while I was asleep and somehow made his way downstairs to Danella’s room.”

 

“You what…?” Cap said aghast. “You coulda fallen John…”

 

“I know Cap but I had to see her…I…”

 

“Good goin Gage,” Chet laughed. The others understood the concern but they had to admire John’s determination to be with Dani.

 

They continued to talk for a few more minutes before John’s lunch arrived and the crew left, promising to return the next afternoon.  Despite the nausea, Roy managed to get some of John’s lunch down him before he waved him away…Afraid he’d lose it. Roy pushed the tray away from John and helped him settle back in the bed. The younger man nodded off.

 

 

Roy wheeled Johnny down to the CCU later that afternoon. “Remember Junior…Ten minutes, no more.”

 

“I know…We need to rest,” he said in disgust.

 

“Is your head still hurtin?” Roy asked casually.

 

“Yeah….W…Well,” he stammered as he hastily back peddled. “Not as bad as it was.”

 

Roy shook his head. “Who do you think you’re kidding Junior? You couldn’t finish your lunch without losing it which is why you need to rest and I mean it. You’ve been on your feet way too much and Brackett wasn’t kidding when threatened to sedate you.”

 

“Okay,” John almost whined. “I just wanna be with Dani for a little while.”

 

“Ten minutes,” Roy replied adamantly.

 

John sighed heavily. “Alright, ten minutes,” he growled.

 

Roy rested his hand on John’s shoulder. “You have your whole lives ahead of you.”

 

“Yeah…But she’ll be going back to school as soon as she gets out of the hospital. She’ll be way behind and it’ll be extra time now before she finishes and…”

 

“Johnny…You were going to wait another eighteen months. What’s an extra few weeks?”  He pointed out in exasperation, knowing how obsessive Johnny could get on a subject.

 

“I know that Roy but…”

 

The older man’s eyes rolled and he heaved a sigh as the elevator doors opened. He pushed the chair down the hall, hoping John would run out of steam but he should have known better. John never gave up that easily but like any parent with a talkative child…Roy had the ability to close his ears to the petulant sound of John’s argument.

 

Roy stopped at the door to the CCU and waited for Elaine to wave them through. “So maybe Brackett won’t mind if I stay a bit longer,” John finished hopefully.

 

Roy had tuned him out as he’d moved down the hall. “What was that junior?”


“Weren’t you even listening to me?” He complained.

 

“NO,” Roy shot back.

 

“I said maybe if I promise to stay in bed tonight Brackett wouldn’t mind if I stayed a bit longer.”

 

Roy hung his head. “Ten minutes junior,” he said standing firm, grateful that John’s eyes were covered and he was unable to shoot him that disappointed puppy look that always tugged at Roy’s heart. He pushed him into Dani’s room.

“I’m not a kid ya know,” John grumbled.

 

“No you’re a patient…A stubborn willful one and you need to rest.”

 

“Johnny?” The softly spoke word stopped his retort.

 

His head turned toward the voice. “Dani…?”

 

“Yes Ná’méhόt…”

 

John grinned as Roy guided his hand to Danella’s cheek. “Hi baby,” he said softly as he lifted her hand to kiss her fingers. She squeezed his hand in return.

 

“She’s getting stronger every hour John,” Four Feathers told him. “But seeing you is her best medicine.”

 

“See…,” John said, shooting his partner a triumphant smirk.

 

The older man heaved a frustrated sigh but grinned at Joseph and his wife Sena laughed at their future son in laws stubbornness. They didn’t have to be present to know John had been arguing for more time with Danella and they knew from Dr. Early that John was fighting the time restriction. They appreciated his dedication to their daughter but they knew he’d had surgery and a severe concussion. They’d back up Roy.

 

They moved away to give the young couple some time alone. “Ten minutes Junior and stay sitting,” Roy warned as he joined Dani’s parents.

 

“He treats me like a child,” John muttered.

 

Danella’s weak laugh answered him. “He loves you,” she murmured softly.

 

The three small words took the wind out of John’s sails. “I know,” he replied softly.

 

“So do I,” she whispered.

 

“I love you too. Hey…My vision came back for a few seconds this morning,” he told her.

 

“That’s wonderful,” she said tiredly.

 

“Dani…I’m sorry.”

 

“For what Mé’oo’o"?”

 

“For what happened to you.”

 

“Don’t Johnny…This was not your fault.”

 

“That’s what your father said.”

 

“He’s gotten wiser in seven months.” John’s snort of laughter was cut short by a groan of pain as a wave of dizziness washed over him. “Johnny?” She questioned worriedly.

 

“I’m okay,” he said with a wince.

 

“No you’re not. You need to be in bed,” she told him gently as Roy came to John’s side. His blue eyes met Danella’s in understanding.

 

“Come on Junior…You need to sleep.”

 

“NO…I…”

 

“Dani’s tired too. She needs to rest and her parents are with her. She won’t be alone.”

 

Joseph touched John’ shoulder… “Rest well John…We’ll be up to see you tomorrow.”

 

His wife Sena leaned down to kiss John’s cheek in the first gesture of affection she’d ever offered. She brushed his cheek. “Good night John.” John’s face reddened but he shot her a grin that melted her heart. John couldn’t see the woman’s reaction but the others did. She glanced at her daughter with a smile. “I see what you mean Anėstaeše Ôh-vó'komaestse.” They laughed at John’s confused look.

 

“C’mon junior,” Roy said as he wheeled the chair from the room.

 

“I love you Dani,” he called back.

 

“I love you too.”

 

Roy got John settled in his bed. “You headed for Eileen’s?”

 

“For a while but I’ll be back tonight.”

 

“You don’t have too.”

 

“I know that but I want to be sure you stay in that bed.”

 

“Roy…”

 

“There’s always restraints…”

 

John’s face paled. “You wouldn’t really do that,” he said with certainty.

 

“Let’s not find out.”

 

John sighed in defeat. “You know…Sometimes being your best friend really stinks.”  Roy’s chuckle warned Johnny that he hadn’t upset the older man that much with his comment.

 

“Get some rest Johnny. I’ll see you tonight.”

 

 

 

Roy returned in time to help John with his dinner. Brackett and Dixie stopped to see them before they left. “Okay John…Here’s the deal,” Brackett said sternly. “The nurse has orders to sedate you if you so much as stick a foot outside of that bed.”

 

John gave a small nod. “Okay Doc.”

 

“She’ll be checking and there’ll be a nurse at that station all night,” he growled.

 

“Okay…I’ll stay put,” John muttered.

 

“Not to mention your partner here in the chair all night,” Dixie added as she kissed his cheek.

 

“Pretty sad when a guy’s friends don’t trust him,” John mumbled.

 

Dixie flicked the dark hair back. “Goodnight handsome.”

 

“Roy…Don’t forget…The nurse has orders for Lorazepam if he gets uncooperative.”

 

“I think he’ll stay put.”

 

“Would you all stop talkin about me like I’m ten?”

 

They all grinned at each other. “Goodnight John,” Kel said as he and Dixie left.

 

 

“So what are we gonna do tonight?” John asked his friend.

 

“I’m gonna watch TV…Your gonna sleep.”

 

“But Roy…”

 

“Give me a break John okay?”

 

John hated to admit it but he was tired. “Kay,” he finally murmured.

 

Roy watched him as he nodded off. “Please God…Let him get his sight back.” Roy smiled to himself. Roy believed in God but he'd never considered himself to be a religious man…He accompanied his wife to church when he was off duty which wasn’t that often but since meeting Johnny six years ago he’d found himself talking to God a lot more frequently.

 

Man…he wanted Johnny back. He missed him in that squad and Roy knew if John didn’t regain his sight, he’d take that engineers test again. He couldn’t stand the idea of being a paramedic without Johnny at his side. He’d stay as long as he had John to look out for.

 

Roy flicked on the TV. He watched for awhile but he soon found himself dozing. He snapped awake as the evening news came on …a pretty blonde anchorwoman began the lead story.

 

“The police are trying to determine the identity of a woman’s body found in the wreckage of a stolen green ford mustang at the bottom of Suicide Canyon. They hope to verify it as the remains of Gayle Markson.” Roy sat up straight…His eyes locked on the TV. “The convicted murderer and kidnapper who escaped custody from the Women’s Correctional Institute in Fresno… She is suspected of at least three other murders and the attempted murder and kidnapping of her former victim and his fiancée John Gage and Danella Four Feathers of Montana. Both are recovering from their injuries at Rampart General Hospital. In other news…”

 

Dead…She’s finally dead. Roy felt relief wash through him. Johnny and Danella were safe…They’d both recover and hopefully Johnny’s sight would return and they could all move on. Roy relaxed back in his chair. His eyes drifted closed as Johnny Carson began his monologue.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED…The Conclusion. PART 5… DAWN

 

 

 

 

Published to Site 10/20/10                                           LINKS TO PART 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

 

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The Characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Limited. 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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