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WARNING: This Chapter contains sexual situations and references.
What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies…Aristotle.
The lighting in the corridors of Rampart had been dimmed for the evening. The nurses were finishing up their paperwork and several had headed for the break room. Only one had stayed at the desk per Dr. Brackett’s orders to be sure one willful paramedic stayed in his bed.
Roy woke as the late show came on. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. Johnny was sleeping soundly and Roy felt reasonably sure that he had enough painkillers in him to stay that way but then he’d had plenty of them the night he slipped out as well. He left the room and sketched a brief wave at the nurse. She returned his greeting with a nod and went back to her paperwork as Roy made his way to the Doctor’s lounge to get something to nibble on before he climbed into the extra bed.
Brisk footsteps coming down the corridor caught her attention and she looked up to see a pretty dark haired nurse as she came into view. The young woman approached the station… her violet eyes scanned the name tag. “Hi Debbie…My names Margaret,” she informed the other woman sweetly as she tapped the name badge. “Dixie asked me to pop up and check on John tonight.”
“She’s very fond of him,” Debbie said with a grin. “She’s up here several times a day.”
“Yes she is,” Margaret replied with a smile. Debbie looked at her oddly. The smile seemed forced...more like a lion baring its teeth than a genuine smile.
Debbie shivered slightly and nodded toward Johnny’s room…”Three twelve,” she directed. Margaret whirled on her heel and headed in that direction, stopping briefly as Debbie called to her. “His friend should be back in a minute if he wakes up and asks.”
“You mind keeping an eye on him a minute while I get a cup of coffee?”
“No problem.” She pushed the door open and quickly moved to Johnny’s side and stood gazing down at him. His eyes were covered and bandages were wrapped about his head…No doubt from his fall at Roy’s house. She bit her lip in annoyance. There was no way she could get him out of the hospital in this condition.
She’d tried several times to find out the extent of his injuries but all the hospital would tell her was that he was ‘stable and resting comfortably.’ She’d never intended to hurt him but he’d made her do it…Called her that horrible name.
She lightly brushed his cheek and then bent down to drop a gentle kiss on his lips. John stirred moaning softly but he didn’t wake. Gayle grinned and kissed him again.
John felt soft lips caress his own. He woke up as a familiar voice whispered in his ear. The voice didn’t soothe him…It made his heart pound in terror. “I’ll be back for you my love…When you’re better. I’ll take you away.”
Roy…Where was Roy? Had she hurt him? “Roy?” He whispered groggily and then he felt lips press against his own.
“We’ll be together always and I’ll take care of you.”
John was frozen in his bed… Drugged, blind and helpless… “Roy,” he said again a bit louder, starting to panic.
“Roy can’t help you my love. If he gets in my way, I’ll kill him and his family. You know I will…I could kill him tonight, when he walks into this room.”
NO!” John gasped struggling to sit up. His head began to pound with the motion.
“Oh settle down,” she whispered with a giggle, pushing him back. “He’s safe for the moment and as for your little friend downstairs…Well I can’t get to her yet but…”
“Dani,” he gasped pushing at her hands and trying once more to get up.
“DANI,” she spat out angrily. “Well you can forget her too. Remember my love…If I can’t have you…No one will.” She kissed him again. “I have to go my darling, but I’ll be back.” She headed for the door.
John’s hands grabbed at the bandages, pushing them off his face in the hopes that maybe his sight had returned but the room was still dark. He had to stop her. He couldn’t let her hurt Roy or Dani. He pushed himself to his feet and tottered unsteadily toward the door. His hands hit the wall and he felt along it until he came to the door…He yanked it open and stumbled into the hallway, listening for the sound of footsteps.
He heard the squeak of nurse’s shoes on the floor and moved toward it. He heard the sound of running feet just as his own hooked on a parked gurney. John tripped and fell. His outstretched hands barely keeping him from hitting the wall headlong and at full force but the glancing blow was enough. His head felt about to explode and his stomach was rising rapidly. He felt hands grab him. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Roy…It was Roy. His hands tried to feel for the older man’s face but then he heard the sound of someone else arriving. “Roy,” he mumbled as his stomach began to lurch. He vomited several times before it began to settle. A damp cloth swept across his face before he felt himself lifted into his friend’s arms.
Roy stepped off the elevator and headed up the hallway toward John’s room. He glanced up as he heard the squeak of nurse’s shoes on the slick hospital floors. The nurse that had been heading toward him suddenly spun around and pushed her way into another room. Her dark hair was pulled into a pony tail and swung like a pendulum at her rapid about face. Roy shrugged and continued on.
He heard a sound and looked up in time to see his best friend stumble from his room. “Damn it John,” he muttered as he began to run. John tripped over a wheel of a parked stretcher and bounced headfirst off the wall…He began to tumble to the floor. Roy sprinted the last few steps, catching him before he could hit the ground. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Roy,” John mumbled as he felt for his friends face…He paled slightly as nausea rose up and he began to vomit. Roy held him around the waist with one arm, the other hand held his head until the spasms ended. Roy looked up as the nurse… Debbie, he thought that was her name…Handed him a damp cloth. She glanced around in annoyance as if looking for someone but she said nothing. Roy swept the cloth over John’s face.
Debbie went to the desk and returned a moment later with a syringe. Roy frowned but the woman had her orders and he knew she’d call Brackett to enforce them if she had to besides…Johnny needed a small reminder that they were very serious. He lifted his friend into his arms.
“What were you thinkin?” Roy barked angrily.
“Gayle,” he breathed out with a barely audible voice as Roy lowered him back onto his bed.
Roy sighed. “Johnny, you have a lot of painkillers in you right now… you were just dreaming,” he assured him softly.
“No…No Gayle was…” John started to argue but Debbie quickly injected the sedative into his arm. “No…No…What was that?”
“Lorazepam Johnny. Brackett and I both warned you to stay in bed.”
“No…No…Dan…,” his voice trailed off and his long fingers closed around Roy’s as the drug took effect and the dark eyes closed.
“Where was his nurse?” Roy asked as John slipped into slumber.
“I left Margaret with him…I don’t know where she went but I’ll let Dixie know tomorrow that her girl dropped the ball,” she said firmly.
Roy nodded. He swept the dark hair back briefly before he lay down on the other bed and quickly drifted off.
John moaned softly as he woke the next morning. Roy sat up alertly as the dark eyes opened and he moved to John’s bedside.
“Hey Junior, can ya hear me?” Roy asked.
“Mmmm,” he groaned in response. “R…Roy?” He whispered with a painful hitch…His head rolling from side to side.
“I’m here Junior…You okay?” He asked, resting his hand on John’s head to hold it steady.
“Your head hurts?” Roy questioned.
“Yeah…Bad…,” John replied…His brain still fuzzy from the combination of Lorazepam and another whack on his already abused head.
“You just lay still…I’ll get someone.”
Roy stepped into the hall but the nurse’s station was empty. The elevator doors opened and Danella’s parents stepped out. They spotted Roy and noted the concerned look on his face.
“Is something wrong?”
“Yeah…Johnny just woke up. He fell last night…hit his head and he’s in a lot of pain and there’s no one around to help. Would you stay with him a minute while I try to find someone.”
“Of course,” Dani’s mother replied. They slipped into Johnny’s room while Roy went to the nurse’s station and picked up the phone.
“Dixie it’s Roy.”
“Hi Roy…What’s up?”
“It’s Johnny…He took a little spill last night and bumped his head…It wasn’t a hard hit but he was kinda upset and they gave him the Lorazepam to help him sleep…”
“Uh oh,” she murmured knowingly.
“Yeah…His head’s really hurting and there’s no one at the station here.”
“Okay…Just keep him as quiet as possible and I’ll page Dr. Brackett to call up there stat.”
“Thanks Dix…” Roy hurried back to John’s room. He found Danella’s parents leaning over Johnny and speaking softly to the semi conscious young man.
He was curled on his side and Sena’s hand was rubbing small, soothing circles on the younger man’s back while Joseph held him to the bed…Pain washed in waves through his head. John panted shallowly and a low moan escaped his lips. Roy recognized the signs and ran for the emesis basin. “Excuse me Four Feathers,” he said hastily brushing the older man aside as he shoved the plastic container under John’s cheek just as the younger man began to retch. His body heaved violently…followed by a gasp of pain, only to heave again.
Johnny groaned in misery. Roy looked up into the sympathetic eyes of Dani’s parents as Johnny’s body finally relaxed. A thin coat of sweat glistened on his face as he panted for breath.
“I was waiting for that,” Roy said ruefully. “Johnny can’t tolerate sedation and head injuries just tear him up.”
The door opened and nurse came in. “Dr. Brackett ordered Meperidine,” she said as she cleaned Johnny’s IV port and injected the painkiller.
“Thanks,” Roy said a bit cuttingly as the harried nurse snatched up John’s chart and left the room.
John’s breathing began to even out and the soft moans ceased as the drug began to take hold. His eyes blinked several times. “R…Roy?” He panted, his hand reaching toward his friend as if he knew exactly where he was. The dark eyes closed and then struggled to reopen.
“Shhh Johnny…You just rest now…I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“R…Roy,” he tried again.
“Shhh,” Roy quieted him. His hand rested on John’s dark head, his thumb brushed small soothing strokes across the younger mans temple.
“I…I…Can…,” his voice trailed off as he dropped off to sleep once more.
“Tell me later Junior,” Roy said softly, close to John’s ear. He looked up at Dani’s parents. “Thank you…I know that was a little unpleasant.”
“It’s alright Roy. John will soon be my son too. I’ll do what I need to, to keep him well.”
Roy smiled at the words. “Thank you Four Feathers.”
“Joseph…My name is Joseph and my wife is Sena. No need for formality.”
“Will John be alright?”
“Yeah…He got out of bed last night and fell. He bumped his head. I’m sure he feels as if he has a herd of horses pounding through his brain right now.” They nodded in understanding. The door opened and Joanne came in. They greeted each other warmly.
“It’s good to see you again. We’ve spoken on the phone so often…I feel like we’ve known each other forever,” Jo said. “I’m sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances though. I feel like I failed you.”
“How Joanne…?” Joseph asked.
“I promised to look after Danella and now she’s in the CCU.”
“That was not your fault Joanne…I only asked you to keep an eye on her and John…How did you do by the way?” He asked with a teasing grin.
She grinned ruefully. “That was successful for the most part Four Feathers but mostly because Johnny is a man of his word,” she said kissing John’s cheek tenderly.
Joseph smiled fondly at John… “I know and I know my daughter probably didn’t make it easy on him,” he chuckled.
“No…No she hasn’t.”
Sena looked a bit shocked for a moment but then grinned. “I didn’t make it easy on Joseph either,” she teased with a slight blush.
Four Feathers laughed ruefully at the memory. He’d failed. He’d have to tell John that before he left.
Kel pushed the door open interrupting the conversation. He smiled at Dani’s parents. “Joseph, Sena…It’s good to see you again. This is Dixie McCall,” he said turning to the blonde nurse. “Dix these are Danella’s Parents. Joseph and Sena Four Feathers.
She smiled at them as Kel moved to John’s side and began to examine him. “How was he Roy?”
“He was sick to his stomach. He was vomiting quite a bit.”
“Normal for Johnny but if it continues we’ll give him Compazine. Why did they give him the Lorazepam?”
“He fell last night.”
“What? What was he doing out of bed?” Kel barked angrily. John shifted restlessly and Roy reached over to gently smooth the hair back from his forehead until he sank back into slumber.
“I think he was having a nightmare. He said something about Gayle but it couldn’t be…I heard on the news last night that she might be dead.”
All eyes turned to him in shock. “What?”
“They found the car at the bottom of a cliff. There was a body in it. They think it was Gayle.”
“Wow…I hate to say it but that would be a relief,” Joanne said quietly.
The others nodded in agreement. “At least Johnny and Danella would be safe.” Dixie said.
Kel nodded at John, noting that the eye pads were gone. “I’ll let Jack know he needs to check him again…Roy keep him in that bed for at least forty eight hours.”
Roy nodded. “I’ll do my best…I have to work tomorrow but Joanne will be here.”
“We will be here as well,” Joseph added. “It’s time we get to know our son in law and we’ll see to it that he stays in bed.”
“I doubt he’ll be a great conversationalist.”
“I think he needs to know I’ve changed my opinion about him and that I would not hold his half white heritage against him.”
Roy nodded as he looked at Johnny. “I’m glad to hear that. Johnny will be too.”
They left soon after with a promise to return the next day. Kel and Dixie nodded assured that Johnny would be well cared for and kept safely in his bed.
Roy resettled in his chair with the TV for company. John stirred restlessly several times but seemed content to drift back into sleep as long as Roy’s hand made contact with his. It was several hours before John’s groan of pain brought Roy upright in his seat. “Johnny?” Roy questioned softly.
“R…Roy,” he murmured.
“I’m here Junior.”
“I’ll get a nurse.”
“Doan wanna sleep.”
“But you need too.” Roy started to move away but John’s hand tightened around his.
“Okay…Hang on.” He poured a cup of water and turned back to John. The dark eyes followed his movements. It took a second for it to sink in. “Johnny…Can you see me?” He asked cautiously.
“Some…It’s gray an…and sh…shadowy.”
Roy’s hand pressed the nurse call button. “Johnny, this is great. You just rest okay?”
The nurse bustled in. “Time for his meds?”
“Yes…Uh no…I mean…I need Brackett up here.”
“What’s wrong?” She asked in concern.
“Not wrong…Right. John can see…A little at least.”
She grinned at Roy’s excitement. “I’ll get him but please keep him quiet,” she warned understandingly.
Roy nodded and turned back to his friend. His hand closed over Johnny’s. “Brackett’s on his way. Just relax for now okay?”
“Roy…Gayle…,” he panted.
“Rest Johnny okay…It was just a nightmare…”
“No…No she was here.” John struggled to sit up but Roy pushed him back down.
“Shhh,” he murmured. “There was a report on the news last night Johnny. They found the car and a body at the bottom of suicide canyon. They think she’s dead junior so it couldn’t have been her.”
“No…She was here.”
“Okay,” Roy soothed, deciding to humor him. “If she was here…She isn’t now so you can relax okay?”
The door opened and Brackett hurried inside. Jack Fisher was on his heels followed closely by the nurse.
“Lit’l…It’s gray…blurry. Sh…shadows.”
“Okay John,” Kel said moving to raise the head of the bed. John clenched his eyes shut as a wave of dizziness passed over him. “You okay?”
“Yeah…” Kel grinned, knowing he’d never get Johnny to admit he wasn’t okay.
Dr. Fisher flashed his penlight in John’s eyes drawing a slight wince but he smiled at the others. “There’s definite improvement,” he said as he let Dr. Brackett in to take a look of his own. “It’s sluggish but there’s definite contraction and dilation of the pupils,” he said sounding very pleased.
John gave them a tired, weak smile…His dark eyes trying to focus on the hazy figures surrounding him. Fisher sighed, knowing he was about to be in for another fight. “John…I’m going to cover your eyes again.”
But why…?” The words were spoken almost simultaneously by Roy and Johnny.
“For the same reason as before, only more so now…You’re straining your eyes trying to define the shadows around you and I don’t want you doing that. It’ll not only tire the eyes but the nerves as well and we want them to mend at their own pace…Let the swelling go down some more and then we’ll see where you are okay?”
John bit his lip in disappointment. His eyes turned toward Roy. The older man almost wept at the sight of those brown, soulful eyes in motion once again. Man, he’d missed them.
“If it’ll get your eyes back to normal sooner, I think you should listen to them.”
“But what about Gayle…?”
“Gayle?” Kel asked.
“Johnny thought she was here last night. That’s why he got up. I told him I thought he was dreaming…That the police think she’s dead.”
“I heard her…She kissed me. She threatened you and Dani and…and Jo and the kids…I…” John was working himself up into a rant and trying to sit up. Roy pressed him back as the nurse handed the doctor a syringe. John saw the motion even though he couldn’t define what was happening. “No…No…I doan wanna sleep,” He tried to push Roy’s hands away. “I wanna see Dani.”
“Not a chance junior,” Roy said as Brackett gave John the shot.
“You’re not to leave that bed for forty eight hours John,” Brackett ordered as John’s eyes began to close.
“But…Please…Gayle…Dan…,” his voice trailed off as he slid into sleep.
Fisher shook his head at Brackett as he began to tape the eye pads in place once more.
Roy looked at the doctors as they finished up. “He’s gonna be alright,” Roy said enthusiastically.
“Slow down Roy," Fisher said cautiously. “It’s some vision…Not all…Not yet.”
“But he can see.”
“But not enough to be a paramedic…”
Roy looked at him worriedly. “Are you saying this is all he’s gonna get back.”
“No…No not at all…I’m saying it could be. Let’s not get too excited…Build him up to high…If it doesn’t happen, the crash back to reality might be devastating. So let’s be careful.”
“You don’t know Johnny,” Roy said positively.
Kel nodded in agreement. “He’ll come back…He always does Jack.”
Roy remembered what Doug said. “Some people say he’s unlucky. I think he’s the luckiest man on earth and one of the strongest. He’ll bounce back.”
Fisher glanced between the two determined looking men. “Let’s hope you’re right.”
Roy called Joanne to tell her about the latest development. “That’s wonderful Honey.”
“Fisher said not to get to excited but I can’t help it. The idea of having my partner back where he belongs is just…,” Roy trailed off.
Joanne smiled on the other end of the phone. She knew Roy would never truly be happy as a paramedic without Johnny. She knew it went both ways. Neither worked well without the other…They complimented the others abilities in every way. Each one lending their support to the other in their strongest area’s as well as their weakest on the job and off. Jo loved to watch them together.
Even in their personal lives it was amazing and she knew it was the same in the field. Their teamwork, their abilities and their friendship was respected, admired and envied. “I’ll be there in the morning but probably not before you go to work…So you have a good day.”
“I will now.” Roy thought back to Johnny’s certainty that Gayle had been there the night before.
“Honey…Until we know for certain that that was Gayle in that car…You be careful.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Johnny woke several hours later. The throbbing in his head had lessened a bit and it now only felt like one jack hammer instead of three. He heard the TV quietly playing some game show and knew Roy was probably close by. That suspicion was confirmed a moment later when Johnny licked his dry lips only to feel Roy’s hand rest on top of his head to hold it steady.
“Straws right in front of you junior,” he warned. John opened his mouth and let Roy guide it between his lips…Sipping gratefully. “How ya feelin…?” Roy asked.
“Lit’l better,” he mumbled.
“You ready to try eating something?”
John hesitated…His stomach was still feeling a bit queasy but he knew if he didn’t try, Brackett would be threatening him with an NG tube. “Kay,” he agreed.
“Don’t worry, we’ll take it real slow and keep it light okay?”
“Kay…Better for you too,” he whispered.
“Oh…Why…?” Roy asked curiously.
“You’ll be the one in the line of fire,” John teased softly.
“Thanks for the warning,” Roy laughed as he slowly raised the head of the bed. He watched John cautiously for signs of distress but other than an obvious tightening of the mouth, he seemed okay. The older man pulled the tray closer. “You ready?”
“Yeah…” With Roy’s help he managed to eat his meal and with the older man’s sincere gratitude he even managed to keep it down. “You suppose Brackett would let me see Dani for a minute? I’m feeling much better,” John asked hopefully as Roy pushed the tray away.
Roy sighed. He knew his partner too well to fall for that. The tenseness of his body and the paleness of his features told Roy that John was still in a lot of pain. “Johnny…I’m sorry,” he began, feeling awful as John’s face fell in disappointment. “You know what he said. You don’t leave this bed for forty eight hours.”
“Do we need restraints?” Brackett asked from the doorway.
John’s face paled a bit more. “No,” he answered miserably.
“Good…How are you feeling Johnny?”
“Like the mummy from one of Chet’s horror flicks.”
Roy and Kel both chuckled as Brackett moved to check John out…He unwound the bandages from John’s surgery and checked the healing incision…Nodding his head in approval at Roy as he looked over the contusion caused by the gun butt. He left the bandages wound around about his eyes but chose to leave the rest uncovered. “You look good John.”
“Then can I…”
“NO…,” Kel and Roy answered together.”
John folded his arms over his chest with a definite pout. “Fine…”
“Roy…Any word on Gayle…?” Kel asked. “Have the police contacted you?”
John turned his head alertly. Roy patted his arm. “No not yet. I’m sure they’re still trying to determine the identity of the body…It was burned pretty badly.”
“It’s not her,” Johnny said with quiet certainty.
“Johnny you don’t know that.” Kel pointed out.
“Yes I do…She was here last night. It’s not her.”
“The police are pretty confident Junior…,” Roy began.
John shook his head stubbornly.
“Well we won’t know for sure until the police finish the autopsy,” Kel said, trying to smooth the tense atmosphere.
“I am sure…It’s not her,” Johnny said with finality.
“Okay Johnny, have it your way,” Roy said placatingly.
“Are you spending the night Roy?” Kel asked. “You said you had to work tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Roy told him. “Dix said I could use the other bed unless something comes up and they need it.”
“You can go home Roy. I’m not a kid and I can stay by myself.”
“I can’t go home junior…The police haven’t released it as a crime scene. They said tomorrow maybe and then I have to have someone come in and clean the…,” he stopped.
“Blood off,” John finished.
“Yeah,” Roy said quietly.
“Sorry about that. I’m gonna have to replace your carpet at this rate,” John murmured tiredly.
“Not your fault Junior…You were an unwilling participant,” Roy reminded him with a pat on the arm.
“Man…And here I thought you were stayin to guard me.”
“I am…I coulda gone to Eileen’s with Jo and the kids.”
Oh.” The door opened and a nurse entered with John’s pain medication. She handed it to Brackett as John continued. “Well anyway…I just don’t want you to have to stay on my account. I mean I’ll stay in bed if that’s you’re worried about.”
Kel lifted the port in John’s arm and injected the medication. “We weren’t worried about that at all,” he assured him.
“What did you just give me?” John asked, feeling the movement of the port and the coldness entering his vein.
“A sedative…It’ll help Roy sleep,” Kel explained with a wink at the older member of the team.
“Help Roy?” he asked peevishly.
“Yeah…I won’t have to sleep with one eye open to be sure you stay in that bed.”
“That was a sneak…,” his voice tapered off as the medication kicked in.
“Thanks Doc,” Roy said with a chuckle.
Kel gave him a pat on the shoulder and left. Several hours later Roy checked on his friend one last time. Johnny was sleeping soundly and he gave his arm a light pat before turning in himself.
John woke to the sounds of Roy getting dressed for work. “You leaving…?” He asked quietly.
Roy turned toward his friend. “Yeah Junior…Joanne will be here soon and Danella’s parents said they’d like to spend some time with you today.”
Roy laughed. “Maybe they’d like to get to know their future son in law and right now they have a captive audience.”
“You mean prisoner,” John mumbled mutinously drawing another chuckle from Roy.
“How’s your head feeling?”
The door opened and Brackett and Dixie came in just in time to hear the comment. “What hurts?”
“His head Doc,” Roy explained.
“Why does it still hurt so bad…? It wasn’t this bad the first time?” Johnny murmured softly.
“The first time there was a lot of nerve damage and swelling. They weren’t doing their job…They’re working just fine this time…Besides you’ve suffered three more blows to the head on top of that one.”
They all grinned at the disgruntled tone.
Debbie came in with John’s meds. She handed them to him and glanced at Dixie. “Were you happy that our magician of a patient stayed in his bed last night?” She asked.
Dix grinned. “We didn’t give him much choice.”
“Um Miss McCall…You might want to let Margaret know that John ran into that wall cuz she left that night. I asked her to stay until I got back.”
“I beg your pardon?” Dixie asked.
“The nurse you sent up to check on him the other night…I asked her to stay with him and she left. That’s why he ended up in the hallway.”
Dixie shrugged as they all glanced at her. “I didn’t send anyone up here. Why would I? You were all aware of the doctor’s orders to keep him in his bed.”
“But…But she said…”
“I think I saw her too,” Roy admitted. “Long dark hair pulled back in a pony tail?”
“That’s her…,” Debbie said.
Dixie shook her head. “I didn’t send her.”
“It was Gayle,” John mumbled.
“No Johnny…It was a nurse. She was dark haired not blonde.”
“It was Gayle,” he insisted. “She spoke to me. She kissed me and she threatened you and Danella,” he said, beginning to become agitated.
“Johnny, just stop it,” Roy said adamantly. “If it was then we’ll be sure to keep a closer eye on you and Dani but it was probably just a nurse that sounded like her and you just incorporated it into a dream.”
John shook his head but Kel intervened. “Okay Johnny. I need you to relax…Getting this upset is just gonna get your head pounding again and if you start vomiting I’m going to put you back on an IV to keep you from becoming dehydrated.” It was too late…It already was and his stomach was turning from it. He lay back as Kel injected the Pentazocine into his IV port. “That should take the edge off and help you rest.”
“You don’t believe me,” he muttered drowsily, still fighting his upset stomach.
“Johnny…I just think that you were on pain meds and you might have mistaken who was in your room. The police will let us know soon one way or the other.” Roy was still hoping they’d identify the body and he couldn’t believe the woman would be so brazen as to walk right into John’s room in the hospital would she? “But we’ll be sure to watch anyone coming and going from your or Dani’s room a lot more closely.”
“Kay,” Johnny said calming slightly as the drug began to take effect.
Dixie turned to Debbie. “Be sure to pass that on. Anyone you don’t recognize doesn’t go in.”
“Yes ma’am.” She left.
“I’ve gotta run junior but I’ll stop by between runs okay?”
“Kay,” he answered groggily.
“I’ll call those same instructions up to Dani’s room as well,” Kel assured the sleepy younger man. John nodded. “Good…Your breakfast will be up in awhile and I’ll be sure to have one of the nurses help you with it.”
“Oh that’s okay Doc…Jo will be here soon and Joseph and Sena said they’d be here this morning as well. I’m sure they’ll help him…They’ve become pretty fond of him,” Roy teased as John’s head rolled to the side in sleep.
Joseph and Sena pushed the door open to Johnny’s room. His bed was in a semi upright position and he appeared to be asleep until a nurse dropped a chart in the hall behind them. John’s head turned toward the door. “Pâhávevóonä’o John,” Sena greeted softly…
“Pâhávevóonä’o Whispering Dove… Is Four Feathers with you?”
“I’m here my son. Good morning.”
“Uh…Good morning sir,” John said sounding more than a bit nervous.
“It’s Joseph and Sena or if you’d prefer néške'e and namêšéme (Mother and Father).
“Yes sir,” John replied.
They both sighed in resignation, knowing he wasn’t quite ready for that yet. “Did you sleep well?” Joseph asked with a smile, knowing Johnny hadn’t had much choice but to since he’d been sedated. A young aide carried a tray in and plopped it in front of him. John couldn’t see it but his nose twitched and his stomach tightened at the smell.
“Your breakfast Mr. Gage,” she said cheerfully.
“I’m not real hungry,” he replied turning his face away.
“You need to eat…Dr. Brackett said so. He said to tell him if you didn’t and…”
“Okay…Okay,” he said holding up his hand to stop the flow of words.
She breathed a sigh of relief and left the room. As soon as she was gone John pushed the tray away. Joseph and Sena exchanged a glance. Four Feathers raised an eyebrow…A look Sena knew from long experience boded ill for John in the coming confrontation. “Do not let us keep you from your breakfast John,” he said quietly.
“Oh…Uh…You’re not. I’m just not real hungry,” he said, not wanting to admit his stomach was still rolling uncomfortably though the pain in his head had lessened a great deal. He was well aware that Brackett and Roy would keep him tied to the bed if he was still sick and he desperately wanted to see Danella.
“You need to eat.”
“Now is good…While it’s hot,” he insisted, pulling the tray closer. “Let me help you.” Joseph was unaware that if John wasn’t eating then something was very wrong.
“The foods not very good Four Feathers…How’s Danella this morning? I’d really like to get out of this bed today so I can see her.” He said, fighting down nausea and using his favorite tactic of changing the subject. It didn’t work…
“Danella is doing well this morning. She is worried about you. I believe they were planning to let you up to see her tomorrow if you’re well enough which you won’t be if you don’t eat.” Joseph pulled the cover from the plate and the smell of scrambled eggs wafted to the young paramedic.
His face paled and beads of sweat broke out on his brow. He moaned in misery…His hand flew out to frantically search for the small plastic basin that should be on the table but like any good mother, Sena had already realized the problem. Her arm circled behind John’s head to hold his brow as she held the yellow basin beneath his chin and just in time. John’s body shuddered violently as he lost what little his stomach held…Every heave was punctuated by a groan of pain as his head throbbed in time with each spasm of his stomach.
“Joseph…Get me a wet towel please,” Sena directed. The older man did as asked, his brown eyes watching John in concern. She took the cloth from him and gently wiped Johnny’s face. She brushed the sweat dampened hair from his forehead as she leaned him back against the pillows. John gasped, trying to catch his breath. “Better now?” She asked gently.
He nodded as his breathing began to ease. “I’m sorry,” he murmured, flushing in embarrassment. Man, to have lost it so completely and right in front of Danella’s parents. John turned his face away.
“Should we call your doctor?” Joseph asked.
“NO,” John gasped, turning back toward them.
“But John…If you’re sick…”
“I’m not…It’s just…I’m a little dizzy and it’s upsetting my stomach some that’s all.”
“But maybe they can give you something for it.”
“They do but…”
“It’s not helping obviously,” Kel said from the doorway.
John groaned. “Mornin Doc,” he mumbled.
Kel nodded a greeting to the older couple as he moved to John’s side. “John…You need to tell me if you’re still in pain or sick to your stomach. I can’t treat you properly if I don’t know there’s a problem.”
“I’ll be fine as soon as the dizziness goes away.”
“I’ll give you something for the pain and the dizziness…All you have to do is say so.”
“And you’ll make me stay in this bed and I wanna see Dani,” he said mutinously.
Kel sighed… “You stubborn little…,” he stopped in frustration. “If that’s the problem then I’ll make you a deal…I said forty eight hours…” John nodded. “Roy will be here in the morning. If you behave…Eat and TELL me when you need your meds…I will let him take you up to see Danella in the morning.”
John perked up. “For real…?”
“For real...” Joseph and Sena threw a grin at each other at John’s excitement at the prospect of being with Dani… “I also expect you to at least try and eat or we’ll have to feed you the hard way.
John blanched at the idea of an NG tube but he didn’t like the thought of eating either but if he’d get to see Danella than he was willing to try anything. “Okay,” he agreed.
“I’m also going to put you back on the IV for tonight…You’re more than likely dehydrated from the vomiting and that’s only gonna make you more dizzy and sick which we could have corrected if we’d known…”
“ALRIGHT,” John whined in defeat.
Kel grinned and threw a grin at the other two people in the room. Kel rang for a nurse. A pretty redhead came into the room. “Yes doctor?”
“Would you get Johnny something else to eat? Oatmeal or something like it…Nothing with a strong smell or too heavy…”
“No jello,” John murmured.
“And no jello,” Kel added with a chuckle. “I also want him on an IV of ringers.” She nodded at the doctor and left. Kel looked at Danella’s parents. “Are you staying or should I send someone to help him?”
“Dixie and Joanne are with Danella so we can stay until they’re done visiting and then Joanne will come here.”
“I don’t need a baby sitter,” John grumbled.
“They’re here because they love you and care about you…Not to babysit,” Kel corrected.
“You don’t trust me.”
“Should we?” John’s mouth tightened. “For the record John…No I don’t trust you when it comes to Dani but I think we have a deal so you behave and you’ll see her in the morning. Dr. Fisher will be here to check you out first thing…Who knows maybe you’ll actually be able to see her.” John nodded sulkily.
“And until we know for sure about Gayle…”
“I do know for sure…She’s not dead.”
Kel sighed… “All the more reason to be sure you’re not alone then.”
John shrugged in defeat. “I guess I’m not really in a position to fight.”
“No…No you’re not and it’s the best offer you’re gonna get.”
The door opened and a nurse came in with a second breakfast tray and a bag of ringers solution, Kel patted John’s shoulder and left. The nurse hooked John’s IV line into the bag and hung it on the rack.
Joseph once again pulled the tray close to his son in law. “We will try this again.”
“Um…You might wanna go now. I’m not exactly too neat with something like this yet,” John said quietly as his face darkened with embarrassment.
“Then I’ll help you.”
“NO,” John said quickly. “No that’s okay,” he protested, mortified that Dani’s parents would have to feed him like a child.
Joseph sighed and Sena shook her head with understanding. “John do you remember when you were sick in Montana?” He asked.
“Yes,” John replied warily.
“You had a very high fever…You couldn’t breathe but you wouldn’t allow Danella to help you.”
John frowned. “I don’t remember that.”
“No you wouldn’t but I do because I was there…I held you my arms until you could breathe again.”
John’s face turned scarlet. “Oh,” he whispered.
“John…You will soon be my son. There is nothing to be ashamed of by needing help from your family.”
Johnny bit his lip as tears sprang to his eyes. Thankfully with the bandages on, no one could see them. How different the views were of this man from the ones of those who’d raised him. He was like Roy. It was his own Grandfather who’d told him never to cry. Not to complain of unfairness and never to ask for help. It was weakness and he needed to learn to be strong. Four Feathers was asking him to trust him the way Roy had…To let go and just be himself…Could he?
Joseph watched the play of emotions on John’s face…Knowing the abuse and rejection John had suffered at the hands of his own family…Not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Some of it he’d even witnessed when John was a boy and he hadn’t thought to stop it…He needed him to understand that he was a welcome part of his new family.
He reached out to gently touch the younger man’s face. John turned his head uncertainly in his direction and took a deep breath. “Okay,” he agreed quietly.
Four Feathers smiled and sat next to him. “Let’s eat.”
John managed to keep the oatmeal, dry toast and to his disgust…Weak tea in his stomach, thankfully only requiring a minimum of help from his future parents. And though it was a little embarrassing, Joseph had managed to help him get through by keeping a running conversation. They discussed the reservation, the upcoming wedding…Danella’s childhood, though John still balked at discussing his own. They moved on, getting to know one another until Joanne finally appeared in the doorway.
“Good morning Joseph…Sena. Morning baby,” she greeted Johnny, drawing a grin from the older couple at the maternal tone she took with John. She dropped a light kiss on the young man’s mouth. “How’re you feeling this morning?” She questioned. “Truth please…”
John flushed at the comment but grinned ruefully knowing he had to be honest. Jo could always see right through him. “I was sick this morning but Brackett gave me Phenergan and I ate some breakfast,” he added.
“That’s great sweetheart.”
“He promised me that I could see Danella tomorrow after Fisher checks me out…That is, if you and Roy don’t mind being here to help me?”
“You know we’ll be here baby but you make sure you wait for us before going up there…I brought your cane in case you needed it,” she added setting the folding cane on the bedside table.
“Thanks and I promise I won’t try to go up there before tomorrow.”
She swept the dark hair from his forehead and kissed his cheek before turning back to the older couple. “Dr. Early was in this morning…He said Danella was doing well except she misses you,” she teased the younger man, with a flick of his sable hair. John grinned. “He also said he plans to move her out of CCU…”
Johnny sat up suddenly…His head spun sickeningly and his hands flew up as if to hold it in place. He groaned but quickly fought down the nausea. “Where…When?” He asked fearfully.
“Johnny lay back,” Joanne said adamantly as she grabbed his shoulders and tried to press him back against the pillows.
“No...No…You don’t understand,” he cried as he tried to push her hands away. “I need Dr. Early…He can’t move her.” He tried to swing his feet off the bed. Jo pushed the nurse call as Joseph moved to help her force John back down. “No…She won’t be safe…She said she’d be watching…”
The nurse ran into the room and took in what was happening. She quickly snapped at another nurse to page Dr. Brackett as she turned to help Joanne who was still trying to hold on to a struggling Johnny, hugging him against her.
“You can’t move her…You need to get the police…”
Brackett blasted through the door a moment later… He took one look and snatched the syringe of Lorazepam from the nurse. “Hold his arm,” he barked. Joseph, the nurse and Joanne held the younger man down but John continued to kick out frantically already knowing what was coming.
“NO…NO…Please…I… I’ll settle down…I just need Dr. Early…He can’t move….Ahh,” he growled as the needle pierced his flesh. “Please…Don’t move her…Don’t move…” He went limp and sagged into Joanne’s arms.
She held him against her for a moment longer before dropping a kiss on the sweat dampened hair and laying him back. “It’s okay baby,” she whispered brushing the hair back.
“What happened Joanne?” Kel asked.
“I told him Joe planned to move Danella to a regular room and he just started to panic. Kept saying he couldn’t and that she wouldn’t be safe…That she was watching….I don’t know.”
Kel shook his head. “He’s got it in his head that Gayle is still alive and that she was here the other night…”
“Restraints Doctor…?” The nurse asked.
“Oh Kel no…,” Jo pleaded.
“I’m sorry Jo…Until I’m sure Johnny will stay calm, I can’t risk him trying to get up on his own,” he said with a nod at the nurse. She moved to strap the restraints in place.
“He’ll be terrified,” Jo whispered. “You’ll scare him to death…Please Kel…I’ll stay with him.”
Brackett chewed his lip. “Let’s see how he is when he wakes up. If he’s calm and he promises me he’ll stay that way…I’ll take them off.”
She nodded and prayed Roy would have a chance to come up here. Maybe he could talk to Johnny and make him see reason at the very least he might be able to talk Brackett out of this course. “Please don’t tell Danella about this…She doesn’t need this stress right now.”
Joseph and Sena agreed.
“I’ll talk to Joe. Maybe we can put off moving her until tomorrow and just in case he’s right we’ll get a guard on Danella’s door until we’re a hundred percent certain she’s not in danger…Maybe that will calm Johnny down.”
Danella looked up as her parents entered her room. Her color was much improved. She was still tired and weak but she was definitely on the mend. She smiled at her parents but her first words were no surprise. “Did you see Johnny? Is he okay?”
Joseph and Sena glanced at each other. “He is well Danella…He was feeling a bit sick this morning and his head was still hurting some.” A worried frown crossed Danella’s face but Joseph held up his hand to stop the hundred questions he knew she’d throw at him. “The doctor has him on an IV to replace some fluids from the vomiting but he told John he could see you tomorrow if he was better.”
Danella glanced around at all the paraphernalia. “Let’s hope I’m as lucky,” she said ruefully.
“Soon Mé’oo’o ,” her mother soothed.
“Have they said anymore about his eyes?”
“No…His doctor will check them tomorrow but it’s only been two days…Don’t get your hopes up too much,” Her father replied. He didn’t tell her he’d do much better if he’d stay in bed and rest.
“Did you have a good talk?” She asked.
“Yes we did…We got to know each other a little better…I know without a doubt how much he loves you,” her father said honestly. “Don’t worry Danella…We have grown quite fond of him. We even helped him with his breakfast.”
“He let you?” She asked incredulously.
“He was a little uncomfortable but we worked through it. He was sleeping when we left.”
She saw a worried glance pass between her parents and frowned. “What? There’s something you’re not telling me?”
“He’s just very concerned about you,” he said with a smile. “He’ll feel much better when he can see you tomorrow.”
Chuck followed the stretcher into treatment 2 after their first run, while Roy stopped at the base station. Dixie glanced up and her face took on a concerned look. Roy’s heart pounded a little harder at the expression on her face. “What is it?”
“What? Is he okay…He didn’t fall again?”
“Whoa…Whoa,” she said holding up her hand to halt the flow of questions. “He didn’t fall and he’s okay physically.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Joanne told him they were moving Dani out of CCU and he just…Panicked,” she said trying to find the right word. “Kel had to sedate him.”
“Oh geez,” Roy mumbled. “Gayle…He’s worrying about Gayle?”
She nodded. “He worked himself up so bad Kel felt the need to put him in restraints.”
“WHAT?” Roy barked angrily.
“I had to Roy?” Brackett said from behind him. Roy spun around to face him. “I don’t want to risk him getting up so until I’m sure he’s going to stay calm…I have him restrained.”
“That’s a problem Doc. John won’t stay calm under restraints…You know that.”
“I’ll call you when he wakes up…We’ll talk to him together and explain that we’ve postponed moving Danella until tomorrow and we’ll get an officer on her door. Maybe that will be enough to get him to promise us that he’ll stay in bed. If so, then I’ll remove the restraints.”
Roy knew from the look on his face that it was the best offer he was going to get. “Can I see him?”
“Of course Roy…Joanne’s with him now. She’s pretty worried about him and I know she’s planning on spending the night.”
Roy grinned. “That doesn’t surprise me,” he said drily as he headed for the elevator. “See ya Doc…Dix. Would ya let Chuck know I’ll be right back?” They nodded.
Roy pushed the door open to John’s room. His partner still appeared to be sleeping quietly. Joanne looked up from the magazine and look of abject relief crossed her features. “Oh Roy, Thank goodness,” she said setting the book aside and climbing to her feet to cross the room and hug her husband.
“Brackett told me what happened. Has he been okay?”
“So far but I’m afraid of what will happen when he wakes up. You know how scared he is of restraints…Roy he’s gonna fight them.”
“Brackett’s gonna call me when he wakes up but I think he’ll calm down as long as he knows you’re here so just hold his hand and tell him I’m on my way. Tell him we’ll take them off when I get here.”
“Okay…I’m going to stay tonight anyway. I already called Eileen.”
Roy nodded and moved to John’s side, reaching out to gently sweep the dark hair back from John’s face. “I wish the police would call and confirm that it was Gayle in that car so he can let this go,” he said over his shoulder to Jo. He leaned down close to John’s ear. “You relax junior, you hear me? I’ll take care of you and we’ll all take care of Dani okay? You just rest.” The fingers continued to gently brush the sable hair back for a long moment. “I’ve gotta get back Jo but I’ll be back as soon as he wakes up.” He kissed his wife and left.
The Los Angeles County Coroner slit open the envelope from the Fresno County Women’s Correctional Institute. The dental records for Gayle Markson were tucked inside. The Doctor set them on his desk and went to pour himself a cup of coffee. It was almost lunchtime…He’d check them against the impressions he’d taken from the body found in the Mustang as soon as he returned.
Gayle sat in tan car in the parking lot of Rampart General Hospital. She’d tried twice to sneak into Danella’s room, telling them she was a friend but had been thwarted both times by the nurse at the entrance to the CCU. They’d been very apologetic but adamant…No one they didn’t recognize as belonging to the unit was allowed in. Perhaps if she got permission from Dr. Early in person they could let her see her. She thanked them and turned away.
Johnny had also been inaccessible…First by the older couple who’d been in his room and then by Joanne but she’d keep waiting. Gayle could be very patient and she’d wait for Johnny forever and Joanne would have to go home to her children. Nothing would keep her from having him and the girl couldn’t be allowed to live…The one good thing she had learned... They’d be moving the girl to a regular room tomorrow and that would make it much easier.
Detective James Ferguson hung up the phone. He glanced over the report he’d just taken from a distraught husband. His wife didn’t return home from work this morning and he was worried. Ferguson had told him it required twenty four hours but he’d at least taken the preliminary paperwork and promised to put out an APB on the wife’s Tan Buick. He glanced at the name Margaret Barr. She was a nurse at Rampart General Hospital. He set the paper aside.
Several hours later, John’s soft moan alerted Joanne that he was waking up. She pushed the nurse call and leaned over the young man. “Johnny? Sweetheart…Can you hear me?” The nurse peeked in and Jo turned toward her. “Would you let Dr. Brackett know that he’s waking up? He needs to call Roy.” The nurse nodded and Joanne turned back to take John’s hand in her own.
Captain Hank Stanley walked into the rec room where the crew of Station 51 was gathered around the TV. “Roy?”
“Kel just called from Rampart. He said John’s comin around?”
Roy stood up and quickly grabbed his jacket. “Sorry Chuck but I need to be there in case there’s any problem with him.”
“Not a problem Roy…I understand,” he said with a smile as he grabbed his jacket to follow his partner.
“Hey pal?” Cap called. Roy turned back. “You give John our best.”
“Tell him we’re thinkin about him,” Mike added.
“And to settle down…They’ll take good care of Danella,” Chet said assuredly.
“I’ll tell him…Thanks guys.”
Roy and Chuck climbed into the squad and drove away. The others exchanged worried looks, hoping Roy would be able to talk some sense into their young friend.
John woke to the soft reassuring sound of Joanne’s voice. “Johnny? Can you hear me sweetheart?”
“Mmmmf,” he moaned softly. His head hurt terribly and he grimaced as he came fully awake.
Joanne saw it as John tried to raise his hand to his head. “Don’t move around baby,” she said softly as she quickly caught the fingers in her own but not before John felt the strap around his wrist.
John tensed as he tried to pull his hand free from Joanne’s…The other tugged experimentally against the restraint. “What’s goin on? Why are these on me?” He began to grow frantic as he jerked against the tethers.
“Johnny…Sweetheart…I want you to calm down and listen to me okay?” Joanne soothed.
“Take em off,” he cried.
The door opened to admit Kel and Dixie. They quickly moved to the bed to help Joanne hold John and keep him from hurting himself. “We will…As soon as you calm down.”
“Why? Why are they there?”
“John…You had a little panic attack this morning do you remember?” Kel asked.
“Danella…? I needed to talk to Doctor Early…He can’t move her…”
“Johnny…Calm down,” Joanne pleaded, knowing Kel would never remove the restraints until he was sure John would settle down.
The door opened once more and Roy quickly came to the side of the bed. He waved the others away and took John’s hand. “Johnny…It’s Roy…I’m here Johnny.”
“Roy…P…please make them take them off…T…They can’t move Dani…She’s w…watching…Please Roy…I’ll be good,” he panted, sounding like a frightened child.
“Shhh Junior,” he soothed. “Danella’s okay…They didn’t move her. She’s okay.”
“She’s still in CCU.” John settled down under Roy’s reassuring words but he still pulled at the straps. “Relax Johnny.” He soothed as he swept the dark hair back.
“Take them off.”
“We will if you promise to stay calm. Will you do that?”
“Yes,” he gasped, sounding scared.
Roy glanced at Kel who hesitated for a moment before giving him a nod. They began to tug the straps free. Roy took his hand once more as they finished. John clutched it like a lifeline. “I’m sorry Junior but you put up such a fight they had no choice.”
“They were gonna...Move Dani…I couldn’t let them move Dani Roy…She said she’d be watching.”
“Gayle…!” Roy stated with certainty. John nodded. “Junior…You gotta let this go.”
“Did they call you? Do they know it’s her?”
“No they haven’t called but…”
“She’s out there…” Why don’t you believe me?"
“Johnny…The body was in the car…” The younger mans adamant head shake brought a frustrated sigh from his partner.
“Okay…We’ll work with the assumption that she’s still alive okay. When they move Danella tomorrow, we’ll be sure there’s a guard on the door.”
“But Roy…She got past Grayson and…” John’s voice began to rise as fear took hold once more.
“Do we need to put the restraints back on?” Kel questioned.
“No,” John whispered as he forced himself to relax.
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow okay…Tonight I want you to promise me that you’ll rest and stay calm. Dani’s safe,” Roy's fingers swept the sable hair back soothingly.
“Okay,” he replied. His mind was already whirling. What could he do…How could he save Danella when no one believed him…?
Kel nodded at Roy, assured that the younger man had it under control. He and Dixie left. Joanne moved to take his other hand. “You okay now baby?”
He nodded as Roy’s hand came to rest on top of the sable hair. “You’re not gonna give them any reason to put those back on right?”
“No,” Johnny replied glad for the first time that his dark eyes were covered. Roy couldn’t see the fear or the evasiveness that he was sure were reflected in them.
Chuck poked his head inside. “Mind if I come in a minute?”
“Come on in. I was just about to tell Johnny that Cap and the guys said they’re thinkin of him and that they missed him.”
“I’ll…I miss them too…,” he corrected.“You takin good care of my friend here Chuck?” John asked.
“Yea Gage…I’m watchin out for him.”
“Good…I don’t wanna have to worry about him ya know? You’re in my seat now.”
“Temporarily Junior,” Roy said with a frown. John sounded almost as if he planned for it to be permanent.
“Johnny…Are you all right?”
“I’m fine Roy…Why?”
“You still seem uptight…”
“I’m okay…I’m calm. I’m gonna see Dani tomorrow. Who knows…Maybe I’ll actually be able to see her.”
Roy looked at his friend suspiciously. Johnny might be reluctant to talk in front of Chuck, but Roy knew he was still troubled.
The radio crackled to life. “County 51 what is your status?”
Roy looked worriedly at his partner for a moment before responding. “County 51 available,” he replied, glancing once more at Johnny and the almost sad smile he wore. “County 51 stand by for response.” The tones sounded. “County 51 respond with Engine 110…Multi vehicle accident…”
“Gotta run junior…,” he said as the voice of Sam Lanier continued giving the address.
“Yeah…Hey Roy…?” John called after him.
“Yeah…?” Roy replied turning back.
“I uh…,” John hesitated. “Um…Good luck…”
“Thanks,” Roy said looking at John in confusion.
“Watson…Take good care of him…He ah…Means a lot to me.”
“Got it…” They ran.
Joanne squeezed John’s hand and kissed his cheek. “You want anything baby?”
“No…I’ll be fine Jo…You can go back to Eileen’s if you want.”
“Not a chance sweetheart? I’m staying the night.” John bit his lip with that piece of information…This would make things a little more complicated. “You tired? You want to sleep for a while?”
“Okay,” she leaned over and kissed him gently. John threw her a smile knowing that could very well be a last kiss goodbye. He heard her move away and the chair creaked a moment later. John lay there feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do.
The idea of Gayle having access to Danella terrified him and he knew the hospital security wouldn’t be able to protect her. He wouldn’t put Roy at risk and no one would believe him and there was now only one option but how to do it…Now he had to not only find a way out of the hospital…He had to get past Joanne to do it.
He knew Roy would be furious but if he succeeded Gayle would be back in prison and if he failed he’d either be Gayle’s prisoner or dead but he had to try.
John sat alone in his room…The tray with his dinner on it pushed aside. Joanne had run downstairs to visit with Dani for a few minutes giving John some time to think of what he needed to do. Roy would kill him if he lived through this…Brackett would lock him up on the fifth floor ward as he’d threatened once before but none of that mattered if Dani or Roy or Joanne were in danger and as long as Gayle was out there that would be a constant threat.
He knew he could well be throwing his life or at the very least his freedom away but if the others were safe it would be worth the sacrifice. He thought about calling Dani and Roy to tell them how much he cared for them but he knew Roy would read right through him and Dani…How could he tell her how much he loved her for what could potentially be the last time without falling apart.
He climbed from the bed and felt his way over to Joanne’s chair praying that she’d left her purse. She had…He felt terrible about doing this but he had no other option. He took the keys from her purse. “Forgive me Jo,” he whispered as he found her wallet. He took the bills from it…Unable to tell how much he had…He hoped it was enough to pay cab fare.
He returned to his bed and tucked the money and the keys under the pillow and lay down. Gayle had said she’d be watching. He prayed she was.
Joanne returned a short time later. “You haven’t eaten sweetheart,” she pointed out softly.
“I’m not real hungry Jo…”
“Baby you have to eat.”
John sighed and tried a weak smile. “Too excited about tomorrow I guess.” Jo brushed the shaggy sable hair from his brow as the nurse came in. She took the dinner tray, clucking her tongue in annoyance that he hadn’t eaten. “Dr. Brackett’s going to be very unhappy with you Mr. Gage,” she admonished. He was going to be more than that John mused but he only shrugged away the words. “Do you still have a headache?” She asked.
“It’s not so bad right now.”
She nodded and left. “Would you like the TV on for a while?” Joanne asked.
“No but you can put it on for you if you want.”
“Would you like me to read to you for a while.”
John smiled… “Jo, you don’t have to entertain me. Read your book or watch TV…I’m used to this now…I just wanna rest for a while.”
“Okay Sweetheart.” She lightly touched his cheek and moved away.
John heard Joanne settle in her chair. The sound of paper rattling told him she was reading. He laid his head back.
It was getting late and the crew of Station 51 had been back in quarters for a half hour and they were tired and starving. The accident had been messy and time consuming to sort out but thankfully no one had died.
Chet was stirring up reheated Chili while Marco set the table. Mike was setting out the bread while Chuck pulled Ice tea and Milk from the refrigerator. They were planning on getting the latest on Johnny from their senior paramedic as soon as they sat down. Roy sank gratefully onto the couch, his mind drifting back to his conversation with John and he was concerned. He knew John was still worried about Gayle and he didn’t know how to set his mind at ease. He wished Doug would call but he knew these things took time.
The phone began to ring and Captain Stanley stood up from the table to answer it. “Station 51, Captain Stanley speaking...” There was a brief pause. “Certainly Detective…Hold on.” He held the phone out to Roy. “It’s Detective Campbell Roy… He sounds upset.”
Roy’s blue eyes flared worriedly and he shot to his feet. His eyes met Cap’s as he took the phone. “Doug? What’s up?”
“Bad news I’m afraid. The body in the car wasn’t Gayle Markson.”
“Oh my God...”
“The police in LA haven’t identified her for sure yet but they do have a missing person’s report of a nurse from Rampart.”
Roy’s face paled. “What’s her name?”
Roy’s heart pounded in his chest as he remembered the nurse Dixie didn’t know and Nancy’s words. ‘You might want to let Margaret know that John ran into that wall cuz she left’… Johnny had been right…It wasn’t Margaret…It was Gayle and she had been in that room that night. “Damn it…Doug…There was a nurse in John’s room the other night…Her name was Margaret but John said it was Gayle…None of us believed him.”
“Ah man,” he muttered.
“I need to warn Jo and Johnny and the doctors at the hospital to keep Danella under guard. Thanks for calling Doug.”
“Let me know Roy?”
The others looked at him in concern as he hung up but Roy didn’t waste time explaining …He immediately picked up the phone and started dialing. The station control unit began to tone. “Station 36, Battalion 14, Station 51, truck 110…Structure fire.”
Roy slammed the phone down in frustration…Joanne and John were vulnerable but at least they were together and the nurses knew not to let any strangers in their room. Danella was still tucked safely away in CCU. Roy ran for the squad with a quick prayer for their safety on his lips.
A while later another Nurse came in. She handed John a cup of pills. “Here you go Johnny…These will help you sleep.”
He recognized her voice as the cute little blonde nurse he’d hit on several times before he’d met Danella. “Thanks Nancy,” he said quietly.
“I bet you’re excited to see Danella tomorrow?”
“Yeah…It’ll be great.” He tossed her a small smile.
Nancy hesitated…Johnny wasn’t usually this quiet and she hoped he wasn’t getting sick. She debated on whether or not to call Dr. Brackett. She glanced at Joanne who was sleeping on the spare bed and decided Jo would be there to keep an eye on him. She watched him dump the pills into his hand and pop them in his mouth before swallowing a gulp of water.
“Goodnight Johnny,” she said as she took the glass.
"Is Jo asleep?"
“Yes…Did you need her?”
“No…No that’s okay. It’ll wait til tomorrow.”
She glanced at the nurse’s station. It was empty but she knew Johnny would be asleep in fifteen minutes and he had enough pills to keep him that way until morning besides he was going to see Danella tomorrow so there was no reason to leave his bed. She had a lot of patients to see to. She shrugged and headed down the corridor with the tray of medications in her hand.
John sat up slowly and swung his legs over the side of the bed, figuring if Joanne woke he’d just tell her he needed to use the bathroom but she didn’t stir. He waited for the dizziness to pass before sliding from the bed. He dropped the pills on the bedside table and retrieved his clothes from the closet, thankful that Roy had thought to replace them after they’d cut his off of him in the ER when they brought him in. He quickly got dressed, taking care not to wake Joanne.
He fished under the pillow for the keys and the bills he’d taken from Jo earlier and shoved them in his pocket. He pulled the bandages free from around his head, debating on whether or not to remove the eye pads. He finally decided against it for now…It might cause a second glance but it wouldn’t raise the red flags with every doctor and nurse he encountered that the head wrap would have. He picked up his cane from the table next to bed and moved to the door.
He opened it enough to hear the sounds from the corridor…Listening intently. He heard the squeak of Nancy’s shoes as she moved to the next room. He prayed silently that there was no one else about and slipped quietly from the room. He unfolded his cane and turned once again toward the stairwell.
He felt along the wall until he found the water fountain…the stairs were to the left. He kept moving until his hand felt the heavy fire door. He pushed it open and slipped through the opening, letting it close softly behind him just as the door up the hall opened and Nancy stepped into the hall. She glanced up as the other two nurses returned from their break. They came to help her and never glanced twice at the closed stairwell door as they passed.
John leaned against the wall just inside the door and took a moment to rest and let the dizziness pass before making his way carefully down the stairs. He hoped whoever was at the station at this time of night was someone he didn’t know and that he didn’t look as bad as he felt.
John took a deep breath and stepped from the stairwell. He brazenly approached the admissions desk. He could hear the rustle of papers and knew someone was there. His heart thudded in his chest as he approached the desk. “Excuse me?”
“Yes?” A young feminine voice questioned.
Johnny threw her his best smile knowing it wasn’t nearly as effective without the soulful brown eyes that usually accompanied it but it would have to do. “I was hoping you could help me?”
“What do you need?” He felt a soft hand rest on his arm.
“Um…I came in with a friend through emergency and he had to stay so I have to find my own way home. Do you suppose you could call me a cab…Any one will do?”
“They wouldn’t help you in Emergency?” She asked in surprise, annoyed that her co workers wouldn’t take the time to help a blind man.
“Uh…I thought I could handle it myself but I uh…Got a little turned around,” he stammered. His face reddened as the lies kept coming. Johnny hated lying and was terrible at it but thankfully the nurse thought the embarrassed blush was from having to admit he’d gotten lost.
She patted his arm gently. “Don’t you worry we’ll get you home.” She picked up the phone and called a cab company. “This is Nurse Carlisle at Rampart General. Can you send me a taxi…I have a blind man here that needs a ride home…He’ll be waiting at the main entrance…His name is?” She looked questioningly at Johnny.
“John Gage,” she finished. She hung up and turned toward the handsome dark haired man. “So what happened to your eyes?”
“I uh…Had an accident a while ago…They just wanted to protect them until my sight comes back.”
“Oh I s…Oh…I’m sorry that was a little insensitive…”
“Not a problem…Could you uh…Help me out to the sidewalk so I don’t miss my ride?”
“Sure…Come this way Mr. Gage.” She led him out the door to wait…Sitting him on an empty bench. “You just let me know if you need anything else?”
“Thank you,” he said with another crooked smile. She sighed at the gorgeous grin being thrown at her and patted his arm before she headed inside.
A few minutes later a cab pulled up in front of the door. The driver climbed out and came around to John. “You John Gage…?” He asked.
John wanted to ask him how many blind men he thought would be hanging out in front of Rampart at this time of night but he only nodded. “Yes.”
“Let me help you.” He led John to his car and opened the door for him. “Where to…?”
“285 Washington Street in Carson...”
“Got it…” The driver climbed in and drove away. The driver didn’t notice the pretty blonde that had stopped half way across the parking lot to watch. She smiled as John gave the man the address. He was going home…alone. She knew he was waiting for her.
None of them paid attention to the rescue squad that was backing into the Emergency Bay as they pulled out.
Gayle had been in and out of Rampart all day. She’d grinned wickedly when she’d been told that Danella was being moved only to have the hope dashed later when she found out that John had insisted that she stay in CCU. She’d tried to get to Johnny too but had been thwarted by Joanne’s presence in his room all day.
She’d retreated to the car to wait for evening, planning to try again. She was hoping to slip past the night nurse. It was less heavily staffed and usually quiet. Motion at the front entrance caught her eye…A blind man was being led from the front door. The young blonde nurse helped him to a bench beside the door. She patted his arm and went back inside. Johnny...
Gayle squinted into the bright light being thrown from the overhead bulbs in the entryway. Her smile widened. He was alone. She climbed from the car and started in his direction but a moment later a cab pulled up blocking her way. She stopped as the driver got out and approached Johnny. A moment later he helped him into the cab. “Where to…?” He asked the blind paramedic.
“285 Washington Street in Carson…” She grinned as the cab pulled away…John was going home to wait for her.
She headed back to the car. She didn’t see the rescue squad that pulled into the bay.
Roy wandered to the base station at Rampart. His partner had come in with the ambulance and Roy took a moment to fill the drug box with several used items. He glanced at his watch. Ten o’clock. Well it was getting late but he thought Jo and Johnny might still be awake…He decided to ride up and take a peek. He needed to warn them both as well as the staff that Gayle was still a threat. He caught sight of Dixie’s evening shift replacement and headed in her direction. “Martha?”
She turned around to look at him. “Hey Roy…?”
“I’m gonna run up and see if Johnny and Jo are still awake… Can you let Chuck know if he’s lookin for me?”
“Sure Roy…No problem. Say Hi to Johnny for me.”
Roy grinned. “Sure thing…” Roy stepped into the elevator. A minute later he strolled up the hall toward room three twelve. He sketched a wave at Nancy and Ellen as he passed the nurse’s station. They waved back and pretended not to see the ‘unauthorized visitor’ as he pushed the door open.
Roy stepped into the room and froze. John’s bed was empty…The bathroom door stood open. Roy went to Joanne’s side.
Jo’s blue eyes opened and she gazed up at her husband sleepily. “Not tonight honey,” she murmured sleepily. If he wasn’t so worried Roy would have laughed but he shook her again.
She sat up, suddenly very awake. “WHAT?” Her eyes took in the empty bed as Roy ran to the door.
“Nancy…Johnny’s gone,” he reported as he flicked the lights on.
The blonde ran into the room. “That’s impossible. He had enough sleeping pills to keep him down all night and I was right here I…”
Roy held up the two tablets … “These pills…?” He asked.
Her mouth dropped open in surprise. “I’ll call downstairs.”
“Don’t bother…That’s not where he’s at,” Roy said with a sinking feeling.
“What is it Roy?” Jo asked. “Where do you think he is?”
“He’s using himself as bait…He’s trying to lure Gayle out.”
“Gayle…But she’s dead …”
Roy shook his head cutting off her argument. “No she’s not…It wasn’t her and Johnny knew it…We just wouldn’t listen. We need to call the police…”
“Where would he go?”
Roy shook his head. “I don’t know…He said she told him she’d be watching…If she is she could already have him,” Roy said with a sense of dread. “I’m gonna turn the squad over to Chuck and go look for him…He can’t have gotten far on foot. Give me your keys.”
Jo picked up her purse, fishing for her keys. “Roy…My keys are gone,” she said in shock.
“He’s leading her to our house…He knows it like the back of his hand and there’s no one there to get hurt except him,” he murmured. He looked up into frightened blue eyes.
“Oh Roy…She’ll hurt him or take him away,” Jo said worriedly.
“You stay here…I’ll take the squad…Call the police.”
She nodded and picked up the phone…“You be careful…She’ll kill you in a heartbeat.”
Nancy was already on the phone with hospital security just in case. “I’ll call Dr. Brackett…He’ll want to know,” she called to him as he ran past her.
Roy met Chuck as he stepped off the elevator. “Chuck…John’s missing. I’m gonna take the squad out of service and go to my house. I think he’s trying to lead Gayle there. You should stay here where it’s safe…I’ll ask Cap to come and get you.”
“Not a chance…I’m comin with you.”
“Chuck…This woman is crazy…You get in her way and she’ll kill you.”
“All the more reason then…You and Gage will need some help.”
Roy looked at him appreciatively. “Thanks partner.”
They ran for the squad.
The cab driver came around to help his passenger from the vehicle. John unfolded his cane and allowed the man to escort him to the front door. He pulled the cash from his pocket along with the keys… “I’m sorry,” Johnny said holding the money. “I don’t know how much is here.”
The driver counted out the bills. He prided himself on being an honest man and took the correct amount. “There was twenty three dollars…The fare was four twenty five,” he said handing John the rest back.
“Thanks man…,” Johnny said with a smile.
“Can I help you get the door open?”
Thanks,” John said again as he handed the man the keys. He tried twice before he found the right one and unlocked the front door.
“Ah where’s the light switch?” He asked without thinking.
John grinned. “It’s alright…I don’t need them.”
The driver blushed in embarrassment at the obvious slip. “Sorry buddy.”
“It’s okay,” John said. The driver turned away. “Hey pal…Is there a five in here anywhere?” Johnny asked holding out the cash.
“Take it and thanks for the help.”
The driver grinned. “Not a problem,” he said taking the extra bill and walking away.
John went inside and closed the door. She’d told him she’d be watching… he hoped she was. He knew he’d be in a lot of trouble for this and he was only going to get this one chance before Brackett put him in restraints permanently. He’d made himself the bait…All he could do now was wait for the shark to come to the lure.
He carefully made his way to the laundry room, feeling along the wall to the utility panel. He found the circuit box and ran his fingers over the fuses until he found the master switch. He turned it off. It was the only thing that gave him the upper hand…He didn’t need to see and she did.
He gripped the handle of the cane tighter…It was the only weapon he had…That and the element of surprise. If he could disarm her…Knock her out and hold her until the police arrived. The idea of hitting a woman didn’t appeal to him much but he had no other way. He headed back inside to wait.
John sat on the couch…He shuddered a bit at the thought that Danella’s blood stained the carpet beneath his feet. John pushed the morbid thought from his mind. He tilted his head to the side…Listening intently. He’d considered calling the police but he figured they wouldn’t believe him either…At least not until he had her right in front of him and if they did come and she didn’t show, he’d look like a fool.
He reached up to peel the patches off from over his eyes. She wasn’t expecting him to be able to see at all so it might be one more added advantage. He blinked his dark eyes but he couldn’t tell whether he could see or not. The house was pitch black and deathly silent. The descriptive thought gave him a chill.
He was afraid she’d come and terrified that she wouldn’t at the same time. He didn’t have long to wait. He heard the rattle of the doorknob. John slipped from the seat and moved to crouch, waiting behind the sofa. His head hurt and he felt dizzy and sick. He prayed he could end this quickly. He held the cane nervously as the door creaked open. The moonlight cast eerie shadows as Gayle slid through the door, closing it behind her. “Johnny…,” she whispered.
John closed his eyes and tightened his grip on the cane. He breathed out softly as her steps began to move through the living room. He heard a clicking sound and realized she was trying to turn the lamp on in the living room. She laughed softly and continued on. “Come out, come out wherever you are Johnny…,” she teased in a sing-song. “You know I’m gonna find you baby.”
She moved further into the room and tried another light switch before moving on. “Very good Johnny…Puts us sort of on even footing doesn’t it…?He heard her trip over the end table.” She recovered quickly. “But you know I love to play games.” She continued to walk toward the dining room. She moved past him in the darkness and Johnny suddenly dove from behind the sofa. She spun toward him at his first motion but she was too late…His arms wrapped around her waist and she crashed to the floor beneath him. The gun she was holding flew from her hand as the breath was knocked from her.
Johnny tried to get a grip on her wildly swinging hands as her body bucked and twisted under him. He caught one wrist and was trying to grasp the other but she sank her teeth viciously into his wrist. “Aarrgh,” he growled but he didn’t let go, knowing if she got free…If she won this battle he’d be a prisoner.
John felt something solid strike his temple. Pain exploded in his brain and he shook his head to try and clear the cobwebs…The weapon in her hand suddenly became clear when the brilliant beam of a flashlight pierced the blackness… Eyes that had been in darkness for six weeks suddenly screamed in agony and John cried out, throwing his hand up to protect them…He lurched backward.
Gayle grinned in triumph and climbed to her feet…“Sorry baby,” she purred gleefully but it was short lived. John squinted against the pain and lashed out with his cane. It struck the flashlight, knocking it from the woman’s hand. The light went out and for the first time Johnny was glad for the darkness. He swung again and clipped the blonde as she tried to find the flashlight…Only one of them could win this showdown and he intended it to be him.
“Sorry Gayle,” he muttered as she fell but she didn’t stay down…She scrambled to her feet… her hand reached behind her and came up with the knife she’d used on Officer Grayson. She swung into the shadows where John had last been. John felt a searing burn as the knife slashed across his arm. He gasped as he dropped the cane, spinning away and clutching at his profusely bleeding wrist. She now had him at a disadvantage and moved toward him again.
John knew he had to get away until he could find another weapon. His legs caught the couch and he threw himself over it, coming to his feet on the other side and swaying dizzily. John caught his foot as he moved around the coffee table and he fell.
Gayle heard the thump and followed like a lioness stalking her prey. “You’re being a very bad boy Johnny…You know I’ll have to punish you for this,” she taunted. She needed to incapacitate him enough to get him into her car. She’d nurse him back to health and then she’d teach him to be a good boy and to do exactly what he was told. Her foot struck something solid and she grinned as she bent down to pick up the flashlight. She started forward once more but froze as the front door opened.
Roy cut the lights as he approached his home. The house was dark and for a moment he thought he was wrong about where Johnny had fled to. A flashlight beam cut across his vision from the living room window and his heart thumped wildly. Johnny wouldn’t need a flashlight. He noticed the tan car parked just beyond his driveway and he knew for certain... Gayle was in the house with John.
He turned to Chuck. “This isn’t your fight Chuck and she‘s in there with Johnny. Just make sure the police are on their way okay?”
“Not a chance DeSoto…I know I can’t ever replace Gage…I don’t wanna be in his shadow at 51…I’m gonna help ya save him so I can get my own partner,” he replied as he climbed from the squad.
Roy glanced at the house…If Gayle was using a flashlight than there was a good chance that the power was off and the only reason that would be, is if Johnny shut the fuse panel down. Roy couldn’t work in the dark…He needed to be able to see. He picked up the Mic… “LA this is County 51…I have a Code L*…285 Washington St…2-8-5 Washington Street. Possible Code I…”
“10-4 County 51…Police will be dispatched.”
“10-4.” He grabbed his own flashlight and the pry bar and headed up the walkway. He pulled the garage door open as quietly as possible. “Chuck…The fuse box is just Inside the laundry room door. I want you to give me thirty seconds to get inside and then turn the lights on. My eyes are accustomed to the moonlight but Gayle will be blinded for a couple of seconds…That will hopefully give me enough time to take her down…”
“What about Johnny?”
Roy chuckled… “He’s already blind…It shouldn’t bother him at all.”
Chuck flushed in embarrassment. How could he have forgotten that? “Sorry,” he mumbled.
"If I yell your name…Shut em off again and get out. Chuck…?” The man looked at him curiously at the intent tone of his voice. “Don’t let her leave with Johnny.”
He understood. “I’ll look after him…”
Roy handed him the flashlight. “Okay thirty seconds starting now.” Chuck nodded and headed inside the garage as Roy made his way to the front door. He glanced at his watch and took a deep breath before turning the knob and stepping inside. His suspicions were immediately confirmed at the sound of footsteps and the panting, painful gasps of his partner from the darkness.
“NO ROY…GET OUT,” John yelled as he pushed himself to his knees. His arms shook with fatigue and blood loss. His head was spinning and he was nauseas but he had to help Roy.
Roy heard the terror in his friend’s voice and turned toward him in the black gloom of the room. He heard the soft sound of footsteps coming toward him and threw his arm up just in time to avoid being crowned with the flashlight…His forearm took the worst of it. “I’ll kill you Roy…,” A woman’s voice panted close to his ear. “I won’t let you take him from me…”
She’s got a knife Roy…” John yelled as Roy was suddenly hit hard…The woman had thrown herself at him like a linebacker…He went down…landing on his back…Gayle straddled his chest and though Roy couldn’t see her he knew that knife would come into play…He threw his hands up to try and stop the blow he knew would be coming.
“HE’S MINE…” She shrieked.
John heard the thump, he scrambled forward on his hands and knees to clear the coffee table. His fingers encountered something cold and metal. He picked it up with fingers that were sticky and wet with his own blood.
Brilliant white light suddenly flooded the room…Roy’s raised hands shielded his eyes from the worst of it but both Johnny and Gayle cried out…Their eyes burned for a moment but Johnny was desperate…He had to save Roy. He squinted toward where he thought they’d been… The shadowy figure of someone leaning over another swam in his vision…The upraised arm left little doubt which was which.
Gayle flinched against the sudden blinding brightness but turned back to finally finish this. Roy would be dead and Johnny would be hers once and for all. She stared down at the man beneath her in maniacal glee…The knife started a downward plunge toward the paramedics heart. Roy threw his hands forward to try and block it but it was too late.
A loud crack reverberated through the room. Gayle’s body jerked. A look of shock crossed her face and then it twisted in pain for a second. “Johnny,” she whispered. Roy looked up at the crazed violet eyes for a moment before they clouded over…She fell sideways, still half on top of him.
Chuck ran into the room…His gray eyes swept the scene in horror. Gayle lay half over Roy…The blood stained knife still in her hands…Johnny stood with his arm extended holding the gun that had taken the crazed woman’s life. It was shaking uncontrollably and blood dripped from his temple and his arm.
Roy shoved the woman off of him as the two paramedics heard the sirens in the distance. He climbed to his feet and moved slowly toward his friend. “Johnny?” He questioned, looking into the shocked and dazed face of his partner. “Johnny …Are you okay?” He asked as he reached out to pry the gun out of his best friends shaking hand.
“R…R…Roy,” he mumbled as the shock of what he’d done wore off and his face twisted in grief. Tears spilled over the dark lashes as reaction set in. John had never deliberately hurt another person in his whole life and now he’d just killed a woman.
Roy handed the gun to Chuck and wrapped his arms around Johnny as his young friends legs began to buckle. He sat him on the floor, kneeling beside him and rocking him gently. “It’s okay…It’s gonna be okay. You did what you had to do…She woulda killed me…Do you understand? You did what you had too,” he murmured close to John’s ear as he held him against him.
“I…K…Killed her. I…I d…did..n’t mean…Mean to do that…I just want…ed to stop h…her,” he gasped.
“Shhh…It’s okay,” Roy soothed.
“Couldn’t l…let her k…kill you…,” he wept.
“I know…Thank you. Thank you for saving my life…” It suddenly occurred to Roy just how accurate John’s shot had been. “Johnny…Can you see?” The older man asked. He felt the dark head nod against him. He closed his eyes in grateful thanks but wished that hadn’t been the first thing his young friend had had to witness. Roy looked up at Chuck. “Can you get the drug box and Biophone?” He asked as he heard the police cars pulling up in front of the house.
“Yeah sure…” Chuck set the gun on the TV and stepped outside…Hands raised. “LA County Paramedics…There’s been a shooting…A woman is dead and another man is injured inside.”
They looked him over and gave a nod…One of them stayed outside to watch him as three others ran into the house. They looked at the pair on the floor…Most of them were aware of what had been going on over the last couple of weeks and weren’t surprised that it had ended this way. One moved to Gayle. He felt for a pulse and shook his head at the other two.
Roy still held John but one hand was now applying pressure to the bleeding arm while they waited for Chuck.
“What happened here?” One officer asked Roy.
“She was trying to kill me with the knife she’s holding in her hand,” he said nodding toward the body of Gayle Markson. “My friend shot her to stop her,” he explained as he laid John back on the floor. The tears were gone but the horror of what he’d done was still evident in his pale face, blank expression and the shaking of his body.
Chuck ran back inside with the drug box and the Biophone. Roy heard another siren and was unsurprised to see his Captain coming inside a moment later as the crew gathered outside the door.
“Is Johnny alright?” Roy nodded. “What happened Roy?” Cap asked looking at his junior paramedic in concern.
“John knew she wasn’t dead Cap and I wouldn’t listen,” he explained as Chuck began to set up the Biophone. Roy was already taking vitals. “I kept telling him he was wrong but he knew. He said she’d told him she was going to kill me and Dani so she could take him away…She told him she’d be watching and I didn’t believe him,” Roy said softly…Feeling horrible that his friend was suffering because he hadn’t been willing to listen…To trust his friend’s instincts.
“Roy…We all thought she was dead…Even the police,” he said glancing over at the officers who were writing all of this down and taping off the house once again.
Roy heard Chuck make contact with the hospital and was only mildly surprised to hear Brackett’s voice come back. “Is this John Gage and what are his vitals 51?” Roy handed the notebook to Chuck and began to bandage the wound on John’s arm.
“Affirmative on the ID Rampart…Vitals are BP 100/70…Pulse is 70, respirations are 20. He’s bleeding from a small gash on the left side of his head near the temple and he has a deep laceration on his right wrist to mid forearm Rampart. We’ve applied a pressure bandage and the bleeding is stopped but he lost about 100 CC’s of blood…He’s in shock Rampart.”
“Start an IV with D5WTKO and bandage that head wound. Get him in here stat.”
Roy took the bandage from Chuck as the younger paramedic began tearing open the IV kit. He glanced up at his Captain and continued the story. “After his panic attack this morning when they told him they were moving Danella out of the CCU they decided to leave her where she was for now but John was still afraid of Gayle getting to her so he set himself up to be the bait to lure her out.”
“He did what? ALONE?” Cap bellowed.
John’s dark eyes rolled toward his Captain…Seemingly aware of what was happening for the first time. “Sorry Cap…I had to try to stop her.”
“Did you intentionally kill her?” The officer asked intently.
John looked back at him. “N…no…She was gonna stab Roy…I just pulled the trigger...I didn’t have a choice,” he whispered. His face twisted in grief once more.
“Shhh junior…She’d have killed me if you hadn’t stopped her and maybe Chuck too. She’d have gone back for Dani as well and maybe you or Jo. You had to shoot John…It’ll be okay.”
“Yes it will,” Doug Campbell said from the doorway where he stood with another man.
“Doug?” Roy said in surprise.
“I had a feeling after I talked to you earlier that something was gonna break so I flew down. This is Detective Ferguson Roy…He was looking into Margaret Barr’s disappearance. I’ve explained everything to him.”
Roy nodded. “Is Johnny in trouble?” He asked sweeping the sable hair from John’s face. John’s pain filled dark eyes watched him intently. He grimaced as Chuck inserted the IV.
“No…I’m sure we’ll find the gun is Officer Grayson’s and that she brought it with her for two reasons only…To kidnap John and to kill anyone that got in her way.” The other officers looked toward John. He’d taken down a cop killer and that elevated him just a bit in their eyes, though they’d never admit it. “She’s a cold blooded killer Roy. She attempted to kill Dani…Joanne, you and John albeit unintentionally and from what I heard she was about to try and kill you again…John had no other option at that point.” Roy nodded in relief.
The ambulance attendants ran in towing a gurney. “Let’s get you to Rampart junior?” Roy said gently. They lifted him onto the gurney and strapped him in. “I’m going in with him,” Roy said as he climbed inside. Chuck nodded, expecting nothing less. He climbed into the squad as they headed for Rampart.
Johnny’s dark eyes met Roy’s as the ambulance pulled away from the house. “I’m sorry Roy,” he said softly. “I really didn’t mean to kill her.”
“I know you didn’t but why did you do this? Why didn’t you ask for help…Call the police? You could’ve been killed or kidnapped.”
“I knew she was alive and no one would believe me. I knew if they moved Dani downstairs, she’d be able to get to her…I couldn’t risk it. She said she’d be watching so I thought if I could get her to try to take me that I could knock her out and hold her til the police got there but she got away from me. And then you showed up and she was gonna kill you. I found the gun and I…I just saw the knife comin at you and I fired…”
Roy’s fingers swept the sable hair back…“What if she’d taken you away?”
John shrugged… “I knew that was a possibility but at least you and Dani and Jo would have been safe anyway. I had nothin to lose.”
Roy’s blue eyes darkened with an even mixture of anger and love. “Well we would have lost plenty Junior…,” he snapped turning John’s face toward him. “I aught to let Brackett tie you to the bed on general principle you know that?”
John’s face paled, fearing that that was exactly what was gonna happen but at least he didn’t have to worry about going to jail. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled again. “I couldn’t let her hurt you all…I couldn’t bear to lose you.”
Roy brushed the hair from John’s forehead…His tone softening. “I know and I love you for putting Jo and I before yourself but Johnny…We…I… can’t lose you either.”
Brackett, Dixie and Joanne were all waiting when the ambulance carrying John Gage backed into the emergency bay. They pulled the gurney out and wheeled him inside. Joanne took John’s hand as Dixie led the way to treatment room four. They shifted John to the exam table and cleared out. The dark eyes looked up into worried blue. “What in the world were you thinking baby?” Jo asked softly as she stroked the younger man’s cheek.
“She said she’d kill all of you…They were gonna move Dani tomorrow. I had to stop her tonight…It was the only way to protect all of you.”
Roy looked into three sets of curious eyes. “I take it she showed up?” Kel asked. Roy nodded.
“Where’s Gayle now?” Jo asked.
“The morgue…She’s dead,” Roy said softly. Jaws dropped and eyes widened in shock that turned quickly to relief.
“What happened?” Dixie asked softly, her eyes moving to Johnny and the guilty look he wore.
“I killed her,” he whispered, looking ashamed by the admission.
Joanne gasped while Kel and Dixie looked at Roy in dumfounded disbelief. “How…?” Kel asked. He looked into the dark eyes that shifted remorsefully away... “Johnny…Can you see?” He questioned suspiciously.
John nodded… “Yeah…And the first thing I did was shoot someone,” he mumbled guiltily.
“He didn’t have a choice…,” Roy jumped in, in John’s defense “I was on the floor and she was about to stab me in the heart.” Jo gasped in horror. “John grabbed the gun and he shot her...The gun she tried to kill Dani with and would have killed me or Jo if she had the chance…Johnny please…You gotta let this go…You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roy assured his friend.
“He’s right Johnny,” Kel said gently as he began to peel the bandage away from John’s wrist. A deep gash was revealed. It was about four inches long and traveled from John’s right wrist to halfway up his forearm. “Well thankfully she missed the artery.” Kel said. “Should take a few stitches. Let’s take a look at your head. Did you lose consciousness at all?”
“No,” John replied softly. “If I had she’d have had me for sure. I knew I had to stay conscious.”
Kel looked the head wound over carefully. “Not too bad…Her aim must have been off,” he quipped, knowing how many head wounds that woman had inflicted on Johnny over the last year.
“She was swingin blind doc…,” Johnny said softly.
They looked at him in confusion until Roy clarified. “He’d shut the power off in the house. She couldn’t see any better than he could and Johnny knew the house by memory.”
“Smart boy,” Kel commented admiringly. “Let’s get a film of that head injury just to be safe but I think you’re going to be fine John…Now let’s talk about the room you’ll be in when we’re done here.”
Johnny swallowed hard. “I don’t have any reason to sneak off any more doc,” he tried to reassure the older man. Kel crossed his arms over his chest and pursed his lips stubbornly. John’s dark eyes shifted to Roy with a pleading look and Roy grinned at Kel.
“God I’ve missed that,” the blonde whispered as he reached out to gently tap John’s chin with his knuckles. The younger man’s mouth curled into a triumphant grin as they all started to laugh.
“So have I Roy…So have I.” Kel said softly.
John woke the next morning…He opened his eyes to the first rays of the sun as it began to rise. Dawn was breaking outside his window. The dark eyes turned toward it. There were no shadows…No gray…No wavering colors…Even his headache had eased considerably as well as the nausea he’d been experiencing for days now. John hitched himself up in the bed.
He heard a light snore and turned his head to see his partner asleep in the chair. He grinned…His partner would be horrified if he knew what a beautiful sight his face was to John right now. He turned to look at the other bed where Joanne was sleeping…Well at least she truly WAS beautiful.
He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and eased himself up…There was a brief wave of dizziness but it quickly passed and John padded on bare feet to the window to look out. He watched silently as the early morning oranges he’d seen from the bed began to change color…The sky was turning blue with its white puffy clouds and the trees that lined the walkways below him. Birds soared past the window and John grinned at the sight of an elderly couple strolling along the sidewalk hand in hand.
He felt Roy’s presence as he came up behind him. “You’re not supposed to be up yet…,” Roy said quietly.
“I know, but I wanted to…See.” John smiled as Roy’s arm slipped around his shoulders understandingly. He turned to look at his friend. “Everything’s so beautiful.” Roy grinned back, giving the sable hair a gentle tousle. “I can’t believe it’s finally over.”
“It is…I spoke to the Detectives last night as well as Doug. There’re no charges and they promise it’ll be a brief inquest to get all the facts straight. Cap spoke to headquarters and their real glad to have you back as soon as Brackett releases you.”
“Which will take a lot longer if you keep ignoring your doctor and getting out of that bed against orders John Gage,” Kel said from the doorway. The understanding smile took away the sting of the rebuke. Kel could well understand the young man’s desire to look at something beautiful after being in darkness for so long.
“Sorry doc…I…I just had to see everything.” He felt soft arms close around him and turned into Joanne’s embrace.
“Good morning sweetheart. How does the world look?” She asked softly.
“Bright…Colorful…Beautiful...” He grinned as she hugged him tight. “It’s a new beginning,” he said softly.
Dixie stepped into the room a moment later… “You have any of those left for an old friend?” She asked moving to Johnny’s side. Joanne stepped away and allowed Dixie in to wrap John in a warm embrace. She reached up and kissed his cheek and John hugged her tightly.
Kel shook his head as he came into the room. “Let’s get you back in bed for a minute. Dr. Fisher wants to check you out before breakfast and then I think you need to eat and rest for a while longer.”
“But doc…I wanna see Dani…I…”
“Later…After they move her out of CCU…Besides your captain and your crew are coming by when they get off shift and Joe is planning on coming up as well. You’ve got a lot of friends Johnny and I don’t want you tiring yourself out…You’re just going to have to wait a bit longer.”
John sighed in disappointment. “Okay.” He hated to admit it but he was tired. Roy helped him back to his bed. They got John resettled just as the door opened to admit Jack Fisher and Joe Early.
“Johnny…We’re gonna go grab some breakfast and be right back okay?” Roy told him. John nodded as the medical team gathered around him.
Joanne and Roy retreated to the cafeteria. They sat across from each other and both heaved a sigh of relief…They grinned in mutual understanding. Johnny and Danella would both recover…Gayle was gone forever. John would have his career and his future…They both looked forward to it. John would be a wonderful husband for Danella and someday be a great father. Neither had to say a word…Their eyes said it all.
John’s breakfast was being delivered when the DeSoto’s returned to his room. Johnny glanced up with a tired smile. “Almost looks good,” he said nodding toward the tray of food. “But I’m looking forward to one of Jo’s.”
Joanne kissed his forehead. “I’m looking forward to cooking it for you too. You do what the doctors tell you and we’ll get you out of here.”
John nodded… “Dr. Fisher and Dr. Early said I could see Dani this afternoon and he said I looked really good and that maybe he’d let me go home tomorrow if I…,” John stopped and chewed his lip hesitantly. Roy and Jo had been so great to him through this whole ordeal. They’d put their lives on hold…Put up with his childish tantrums…Held him through the tears and triumphs…They’d been driven from their home, their lives put in danger. How could he ask them to continue to look after him? The doctors had told him he could go home but only with supervision.
“If you what?” Jo asked.
“I uh…,” he shrugged. “I guess I should stay here a couple more days.”
Roy looked at him with dawning understanding. “I think your room at our house would be much more comfortable don’t you?” He asked sweeping the shaggy hair from John’s forehead.
The dark eyes met Roy’s worriedly. “I’ve spoiled your whole summer lookin after me…I think you could use the peace and quiet.”
Joanne’s eyes flared with comprehension…She took the much loved face between her hands. “John Roderick Gage…You are coming home where you belong…Where I can take care of you until you’re ready to be on your own.”
“But Jo…” She put her fingers over his mouth.
“Shhh…Don’t argue with me or I’ll swat you.”
John grinned. “Yes ma’am.” The dark eyes turned to Roy apologetically.
“Did you really think we wouldn’t want you to come home junior?” Roy asked gently.
The younger man shrugged uncertainly and looked away. “I’ve put you through so much this summer…I…”
Roy reached out to lift his chin, smiling as the dark eyes once again looked into his…Uncaring how many times his partner had and would use them against him to tear his heart out. “Let’s see if your ears still work Junior…We love you…You’re a part of this family and we’d no more turn you away from YOUR home than we would Chris or Jen…Understand?”
Tears glistened in John’s eyes for a moment before he blinked them away and he nodded. “Thanks,” he whispered hoarsely.
“The police have released the house so I need to go home and clean before we bring you and the kid’s home.” John’s face paled slightly at Jo’s words.
Roy touched his shoulder reassuringly. “Relax junior…The police already sent the cleaning crew in…The blood stains are already gone. Jo, Emily and Melissa are gonna go and finish up.” John nodded in relief. “Now eat your breakfast before it gets cold,” Jo instructed kissing his cheek and heading for the door.
John’s mouth trembled slightly but he managed a smile for the two people who’d made him feel as if he still had a family…Parents who loved him. “Thanks,” he whispered softly as he began to eat.
Roy pushed the tray away a short time later as John’s eyes drooped tiredly. He dropped the head of the bed and pulled the covers up to his friend’s chest. His fingers swept gently through the sable hair as the dark eyes drifted shut.
John’s dark eyes cracked open a while later and the sight he’d waited so long for swam into focus. Danella’s smile widened as she noticed the chocolate brown eyes watching her sleepily. “Good afternoon Mé’oo’o…”
“Afternoon Ná’méhόt,” he whispered. His eyes moved to rest on Joseph and Sena. He smiled at them both as he struggled to sit up. He felt the head of the bed begin to lift and turned his head to see his partner pressing the button.
“You have regained your sight?” Joseph asked.
“Yes,” John replied but his eyes were on Danella.
“They told us Gayle was dead Mé’oo’o?” She questioned softly. “They said you shot her?”
John looked away for a moment. What would Danella think of him now…She had such a gentle heart…Could she still love him after he’d killed someone? His eyes caught Roy’s for a second and Roy nodded reassuringly. John turned back to Danella. “Yes…Yes I did…She was gonna stab Roy…I had to,” he explained softly.
Danella reached out to gently stroke his cheek. “You did it to protect me as well? You would never have been in that position if not for your love for me…For all of us,” she said glancing at Roy…“Thank you Ná’méhόt.” She leaned forward in her chair. John met her halfway…Their mouths met in a gentle kiss…Telling him without words that she’d forgive him for anything, though she really had nothing to forgive him for.
Captain Stanley and the crew showed up a while later. They pushed the door open and went in. John smiled a greeting. “Hi guys,” he said cheerfully. They grinned at the twinkle in their young friend’s brown eyes.
“You can see!” Chet squeaked in joy. John nodded with a grin.
“This is great…,” Marco piped in joyfully.
“Are you coming back?” Mike asked.
“Yeah…As soon as Brackett and Fisher release me…I have to pass the recertification though.”
“I’m sure that won’t be a problem for you pal,” Cap reassured his youngest crew member.
John’s eyes turned to Chuck Watson. He held his hand out. “I wanted to thank you for what you did last night.”
“Forget it John…I didn’t much like workin in your shadow. I couldn’t replace ya so I figured I better help Roy save your butt. I’ll find a partner of my own…Someone who works with me the way you and DeSoto do.” John smiled at him and nodded in understanding as Roy’s hand came to rest affectionately on his shoulder.
“So what happened last night?” Chet asked, grunting as Marco’s elbow connected with his ribs.
“Dios Kelly…John doesn’t want to talk about this right now.”
Chet’s eyes met John’s…He saw the guilt reflected in the brown eyes. “I’m sorry man…But you know you didn’t do anything wrong right?”
“Yeah Chet…I know,” he mumbled softly.
Roy sighed. He knew John would get past this but he knew it would also take time. John didn’t normally engage in violence and he’d never deliberately hurt anyone before this…Well except Uncle George but that had been more of an accident. It would take time but he’d have Roy and Jo and Danella, her family, his friends and the station crew to help him through.
Roy brought Johnny home the next morning after a stop in Danella’s room. He was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t spend some time alone with her but her parents would only be here a couple of more days so he really didn’t want to deny them their time with Dani either. He’d have at least a week with her after she was released from the hospital. Dr. Early had flat refused to allow her to fly for at least that long … and John was looking forward to that. Looking forward…He grinned to himself…He really could do that again.
School would have already started and the wedding would be pushed back to accommodate the missing weeks she’d have to make up but John thought he might be able to swing a few days off to go to Montana for Christmas. Maybe Roy and Joanne and the kids could come too.
Roy walked with him into the living room and though he tried not to, John’s eyes were inexorably pulled toward the spot where Gayle Markson had died by his hand…Thankfully, it looked pretty much back to normal. There were no telltale stains to remind them all of the horrors that had taken place in this room.
Joanne had brought the children home earlier that morning and they were waiting for him eagerly so they could all begin to put this behind them together as a family.
“Uncle Johnny,” Jen shouted as she ran toward him and threw herself into his embrace. Chris was close behind. He hugged them both tightly…Neither one of them had been told about Danella being shot or Gayle’s death in this room, though they knew their Aunt and Uncle had both been injured and hospitalized but not exactly what had transpired.
“Princess…Buddy,” he sighed, holding the two children against him. “Man I’ve missed you two.”
“We missed you too…Grandma and Grandpa took us to the zoo…And Grandpa took us to see a big ship,” Jen told him.
“Wow…I guess you two had a great time.”
Chris looked sad. “I wish you and Aunt Dani had but at least you got your sight back,” he pointed out trying to be positive.
John grinned at the appellation… “Aunt Dani and I are gonna be fine Chris and my eyes are back to normal.” John turned around to look up at Roy and Joanne who’d just joined them. “I was thinkin…”
“Uh oh…,” Roy teased.
John frowned in annoyance but refused to be baited. “I WAS THINKIN,” he stressed again, drawing a chuckle from his partner and a giggle from Joanne. “That maybe we could all go to Montana for Christmas.”
“I don’t know junior…That could run into some money.”
John looked a bit disappointed but nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed. He’d been celebrating the Holiday’s with Roy and his family for six years now and had hoped to find a way to be with both the DeSoto’s and Dani.
Jo and Roy glanced at each other in exasperation at the sorrowful look in the brown eyes but brother had they missed it. “Maybe we’ll think of something…We’ve got four months.”
John brightened a bit. “I think it would be great to be able to show you all where I grew up. Maybe teach the kids to ride,” he added hopefully.
“We’ll do our best junior.”
“Let’s have some breakfast…We were waiting for you two,” Jo said linking her arm with John’s as they headed for the kitchen.
John had a busy schedule over the next few days. He was studying for his recertification and had also had to go the police station to answer their questions. The District Attorney’s office had also needed to talk to him…He’d been formally cleared of any charges in the death of Gayle Markson. In between all of that he’d had several doctors’ visits as well as visiting Danella at Rampart. He felt a bit guilty having to disrupt Roy and Joanne’s day constantly but he still wasn’t allowed to drive and they’d assured him they weren’t bothered by playing chauffer.
Dixie glanced up as John came in through emergency with Roy. Dr. Brackett was expecting him and John was hoping to be cleared by the dark haired doctor to at least limited duty until he was recertified. The pretty blonde nurse’s mouth broke into a wide grin as she spotted the pair. “Hi Roy,” she greeted before turning her attention to the younger of the team. “Hey handsome,” she teased. “I’m seeing more of you around here lately than I did when you were on duty. What’s the attraction?” She asked with a smile.
John grinned as he slid his arm around the older nurse. “I’ve always had an attraction for this part of Rampart,” he said with a flirting wink. Dixie laughed. “I have to see Brackett,” he said releasing his hold and stepping away. “Hopefully he’s gonna let me go back to work. At least desk duty,” Johnny explained.
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Kel said from behind them. “But why don’t you come here and we’ll take a look to be sure,” he said with a nod toward treatment room five.
“See ya Dix,” Roy said with a slight wave.
John threw a grin at Roy and they followed the doctor inside. Kel patted the exam bed and picked up the ophthalmoscope as John jumped up on the table. “Look straight at my nose Johnny,” Kel instructed as he checked his eyes. He stepped back after a moment and gave John a grin. “Looks good…Let’s take a look at the rest.” He peeled the bandage off of John’s head. The stitches were healing well and could be removed in a few days. He moved around behind him. The incision from John’s last surgery was completely healed and there was already a light covering of the soft down of re-growing hair. “Why don’t you lay down on your stomach for me?” Kel instructed.
“Okay Doc,” John replied as he swung around.
Brackett plucked the stitches free and re-inspected the wound. “Any headaches or dizziness Johnny? He asked.
“No…I’ve been feelin great.”
Kel nodded and pursed his lips as John sat up. Kel peeled the bandage away from his arm but continued his conversation. “A new paramedic class just started Johnny. The last one is due to take the certification exam tomorrow. You think you’re ready for it?” Kel asked.
John nodded eagerly. “More than ready Doc…”
“Now I know your chomping at the bit to get back in that squad but that’s a couple of weeks away yet.” John looked disappointed…So did Roy. He opened his mouth to argue but Kel raised a hand to stop him. “Just hear me out.” John nodded, shooting a look at his partner. “I want you to take the exam tomorrow…If you pass, I’d like to ask the fire department to reinstate you to limited duty but assigned to me.”
“To you…?” John asked in confusion.
“To help Joe and me teach the class…”
“I…I’m ahh... not much for teaching Doc,” John said quietly.
“I think you’d make an excellent teacher John. I’ve seen you with trainees and you’re one of the two best paramedics we’ve ever trained and I’ll never tell you which of you is better,” he teased, drawing a grin from both men. “But what I am sure of is that six young firemen will have one of the best teachers possible for at least a couple of weeks, besides you’ll be at the hospital everyday where you can see Danella,” Kel delivered the final stroke as he re-wrapped John’s arm.
Roy grinned as John suddenly perked up at that enticement. “Okay…A couple of weeks?”
“A couple of weeks and I’ll release you back to 51. You’ll be recertified and working with the trainees will keep you that way.”
“Deal,” he said with a grin holding out his hand. Kel shook it.
“Be here tomorrow morning at eight.”
“I’ll be here.”
Johnny and Roy headed down the hall to see Dani. John pushed the door open quietly in case she was asleep. She still tired very easily and he didn’t like disturbing her but she was awake. She broke into a wide smile as he came into the room. “Good morning Mé’oo’o,” she greeted holding out her hand.
John came to her side and took her delicate fingers in his own. He kissed them gently before bending down to kiss her lips…He was happily surprised when her mouth parted beneath his…Her tongue gently entangled with his for a brief moment. It was enough for him to know she was finally feeling stronger and he allowed the kiss to linger for a few extra seconds until an amused “AHEM,” pulled both of them back to earth.
John pulled back to smile down into amber eyes glowing back at him with joy. He turned to face her parents. “Joseph…Sena. How are you this morning?”
“We are good…Did the doctor release you for duty?”
John shook his head. “No…Not yet but I am taking my exam tomorrow. That will recertify me as a paramedic but I’m still not on active duty. Brackett said a couple of more weeks.”
“Oh sweetheart,” Danella said softly as she squeezed his hand, knowing how disappointed he was.
“Well Junior you did have brain surgery ten days ago…You were whacked off the head with a flashlight by Gayle and you still have stitches in your arm…I kind of thought he wouldn’t be ready to have you back to work just yet even around headquarters.”
“Besides he is letting you help with the trainee class and that is still considered active duty. You’ll be paid for it.”
“Trainee class…?” Danella asked.
John grinned. “Teaching new paramedics…That means I’ll be in the hospital most of the day,” he told her with a wink. She smiled happily at that piece of information…“And I won’t have to bug Roy and Jo for a ride either.”
“You weren’t bugging us Junior,” Roy replied.
“Well that’s good to know,” Joseph said. “As her mother and I will be leaving in the morning. She will have you to keep her company. You will see to it that she rests won’t you?” He teased as John’s face turned scarlet.
“Yes sir…Besides I’ll be busy most of the day,” he added with a small grin.
Then we will say our goodbyes today,” Joseph said as he slipped his arm around John’s shoulders and led him away from Danella. Roy and Dani both watched curiously but finally decided whatever was happening…John would tell them about it in his own time.
John and Joseph stopped across the room and the older man turned John to face him. He reached out to lift John’s head, forcing his eyes to meet his. “John…I know what happened this summer weighs on your heart but do not let it destroy it.” A look of surprise crossed the younger man’s features but he didn’t answer. “What happened to Danella was not your fault.” John nodded hesitantly. “You cannot be responsible for other people’s actions. What you did…You had to do to protect my daughter and your family…Is nothing to be ashamed of either. It was an accident and I know in my heart that you would not set out to intentionally kill anyone.”
“No sir,” John whispered.
“Good…,” Joseph smiled. “I also wanted to thank you for keeping your word this summer.” John blushed and Four Feathers chuckled. “Mostly anyway…” John’s head snapped up in shock. “Her mother told me,” he whispered conspiratorially.
John’s face flushed with embarrassment… “I…Uh…We…She didn’t…I mean we didn’t…,” he stuttered.
Joseph laughed outright at the stammered words, drawing Roy and Danella’s attention once again. “John…I know she didn’t make it easy for you and I’ll let you in on a little secret. My daughter is a stubborn woman and she knows what she wants. She comes by it honestly…Her mother was the same way.” John looked at the delicate, shy woman who stood with Roy and Danella in disbelief. “I’m afraid I didn’t last as long as you.”
John snapped his head back around to look at his future father in law and grinned impishly. “I can understand that,” he teased. “She’s a beautiful woman.”
“Good…Besides,” he said as he pulled John into a fatherly embrace. He whispered something quietly into his ear. John looked up at him in surprise and a grin broke across his face. “So you understand my son.”
“Yes…,” there was a brief hesitation before he finished. “Namêšéme…” (Father). Joseph smiled at him.
They stayed to visit for a while longer but knowing the older couple was leaving tomorrow, Johnny and Roy left them to spend time with their daughter. “I’ll see you I the morning Ná’méhόt,” he said leaning down to kiss her goodnight. “Ne’mé‘hotâtse Dani…”
“Joseph,” he said holding out his hand. The older man disregarded it and pulled John into a warm embrace.
“Take care of her my son.”
John nodded as he returned the embrace. He stepped away and turned to Sena. “Have a good trip home...,” he said with a crooked quirk. She smiled and reached up to kiss his cheek before drawing him close to hold him.
“Welcome to our family John.” His dark eyes grew a little misty as she stepped away.
“Thank you… Néške'e ...” (Mother/IN LAW implied)
Danella and Roy smiled at each other.
John stopped to see Danella the next morning before heading to the conference room to take his exam. Her eyes fluttered open as the door opened and they were alone for the first time since Gayle had forced Joanne and Danella to flee sixteen days earlier. “Good morning my love,” she said with a sleepy grin.
God she looked beautiful, John mused as he moved to her side. He bent down to kiss her gently. “Good morning baby,’ he greeted as he pulled back. He sat beside her on the bed and took her hand. “Did your parents get off okay?”
“Oh yes…Dixie is driving them to the airport right now.”
“Johnny…What did my father say to you yesterday?” She asked curiously.
John grinned… “He told me that what happened with Gayle wasn’t my fault and not to let it tear me apart.”
She smiled. “I heard that part but what did he say to you after that? You looked so embarrassed.”
“He told me you uh…Told your mom about us…He told me he understood.”
She grinned deliciously and John couldn’t resist slipping in another soft kiss. Her arms encircled his neck as the kiss deepened. “And what else did he tell you?” She whispered against his lips.
John smiled secretively. “I’ll tell you some other time my love but not today.” He sat back and grinned down at her pouty look. “Did Dr. Early say when he’d let you out of here?”
“Another week at least but he said I’d have to take it easy for another week after that,” she said with a disappointed look.
John’s matched it. “Well at least we’ll still be able to be together longer. You’d be going home to go back to school tomorrow if everything had run smoothly.”
“You always manage to find the bright side my love,” she teased. “Are you still staying with Roy?”
“Until tomorrow…He’s off and Brackett’s releasing me to drive tomorrow if I don’t have any problems. So he’s gonna help me to clean up the place and get settled…I guess Gayle was there looking for me.” He shrugged, hoping he could get past the idea that the woman had been in his home.
She caressed his face gently. “Think of the memories we made there instead,” she teased.
“You always manage to find the bright side my love,” he tossed her words back to her with a grin as he leaned down to kiss her. She giggled with delight as his lips moved over hers.
“Hrrrmph.” The throat clearing sound came from behind them. John sat back and turned toward the door where Joe Early stood grinning at the couple.
“Mornin Doc…,” John said with an impish grin.
“Morning Johnny…,” he replied glancing at his watch ruefully. “But as good as you are for the morale of my patient…I believe you have an exam to take in four minutes.
John’s face paled and he dropped another quick kiss on Dani’s lips and bolted for the door. Joe stepped aside with a smile as John ran past him. “I’ll be back later,” he called over his shoulder.
Dani threw Joe a grin… “I was so afraid we would never see him like this again,” she said softly.
Joe squeezed her hand understandingly. “Believe me Danella…WE all were.”
John returned to his apartment the next morning. Roy opened the windows to let the fresh air in to sweep the mustiness away while Johnny headed to his bedroom to put his suitcase down. Roy found him there a short time later…Suitcase still in hand as he looked at his closet…His clothes strewn on the bed. There was no doubt that Gayle had ransacked his closet.
Roy took a look into the room and frowned. He took the suitcase from John’s hand and rubbed his back with the other. “Let me clean this mess up Junior. You go take care of the kitchen.”
John nodded and turned away. Roy watched him with a heavy heart. John had seen many tragedies in his twenty six years, personal and professional but this was different…This tore at his soul…He’d taken a life. Roy knew he’d get through this but he also knew it would take time. He hoped when he got back to work he’d be able to put this behind him and let it go…move on.
He’d suggest a therapy session when he thought John was ready to talk about it. Roy began to gather John’s clothes. He took them to the laundry closet and started the washer. He hoped he could wash away her memory as easily. He found his partner in the kitchen a while later. Johnny gave him a wan smile and the older man reached out to curl his hand around John’s neck. “You can always come home for a while longer,” he invited his friend.
John shook his head. “I just keep seeing her face Roy…Her eyes. I know I had to do it…But if I hadn’t set the whole thing up…”
“She’d still be out there somewhere…Stalking you, trying to kill me…Danella. You didn’t plan on anyone dying Junior…She made that happen, not you,” he reminded him as he pulled John into his arms. The younger man’s eyes clenched shut as the image of the lifeless violet eyes swam before him. He rested his forehead against his best friends shoulder and let the tears slip between the closed lids.
“I know…,” he whispered.
“Then let it go…Okay?” Roy urged as he stroked the dark head resting against him.
Roy looked around. “Ya know junior…You always have that house you bought a year ago. I know you’ve been renting it out and it’s a little further to drive to work but maybe it’s time you thought about moving into it yourself. You’re gonna be starting a family of your own soon.”
John’s face lit up as he stepped back and wiped at his eyes. “That’s a great idea Roy…It was too big for just me but…”
“Not for a couple just starting out.”
“Thanks Roy,” he said softly.
The older man gave him a gentle nudge on the cheek. “Everything’s cleaned up in there…I washed your clothes…You just need to toss em in the dryer. I think you’re set Junior but you call me if you need anything and come home if you get lonely.”
The next week flew by…John’s scores came back and Kel threw Dixie a wink as he handed them over to Johnny. He grinned at the results. “How’d ya do Junior?” Roy asked looking over his partner’s shoulder.
John handed him the test and Roy glanced at it. A look of pride crossed the older man’s face. “I aced it…,” John said excitedly as a broad grin curled his mouth.
Roy scruffed the dark head affectionately. “I’m proud of ya junior.”
“Welcome back Johnny,” Kel said holding out his hand as Dixie kissed his cheek.
John grinned. “Thanks…Hey I gotta go show Dani.” They nodded as he trotted off.
“How’s he doing Roy? Really…,” Kel asked.
“The memory’s fading a little…We’ve had a couple of therapy sessions and he’s talked it through…I think he’s ready to move on now…Let it go. At least he can walk into our living room without looking at the place she died now.”
“That’s good. I was concerned about him…”
“So was I but I knew he’d let it go in time and knowing Dani will be released soon isn’t hurting his recovery any either…” The other two grinned.
John pushed the door to Dani’s room open and grinned at the sight of her sitting up in the chair next to the bed. She’d been up and around for several days and had begun a light round of physical therapy to get her back on her feet. She smiled happily as he came into the room.
She pushed herself to her feet as he came closer drawing a concerned frown from her fiancée. “You shouldn’t be up,” he protested as he came quickly to her side.
She laughed merrily. “Then all of my therapy has been for nothing Mé’oo’o,” she teased as she slid her arms around his neck.
John grinned and lowered his head to kiss her tenderly. Her fingers climbed into his hair to pull him closer…The kiss deepened…John finally pulled back a bit breathlessly…“How are you feeling?” He asked finally.
“A little warm,” she giggled against his lips.
John grinned as he scooped her up in his arms and sat in the chair, depositing the girl in his lap. “I got my scores back on the recertification,” he told her as he handed her the paper.
She took them from him to scan them and then squealed in excitement for him. “Perfect…? I knew I was marrying a brilliant man,” she teased him gently as their lips met once more. Her mouth parted beneath his in invitation…He didn’t refuse it…His hands caressed her back…pulling her against him
A nurse pushed the door open but stopped short as she caught sight of the couple in the chair. Johnny had been a Lothario in the halls of Rampart for years now but every nurse in this hospital had been cheering for this couple to come through the trials of the last few weeks and here they were. She grinned and quietly backed out…The sheets could wait.
After a long while John and Danella came up for air. Dani grinned into his dark eyes. “Dr. Early was here this morning.”
“What did he say?”
“He’s going to let me go home tomorrow.” John grinned and hugged her tightly. He kissed her again but broke it quickly. “He said I have to take it easy for at least another week.”
“That’s okay…That means I get to keep you around for another week,” he laughed.
She brushed the shaggy hair from his face to look into his eyes. “Are you okay?” She asked softly.
The smile left John’s face. “I’ll be alright. It gets a little better every day. I’ll always remember the fact that I killed her Dani…Even if it was to save Roy but…I’ve accepted the fact that SHE left me no alternative and I guess I have to be okay with that.”
She gazed into the dark eyes for a long moment looking for the truth in them. He looked unflinchingly back. “I love you John Gage,” she whispered.
“I love you Dani.” He kissed her softly and then sighed. “I have to get back to class. Roy’s sitting in today too,” he explained as he stood up and carried her back to the bed to deposit her gently on the sheets. “I’ll be back after.”
“I will look forward to it,” she said blowing him a kiss as he left the room. John walked jauntily down the hall…He was oblivious to the smiles of triumph that followed him.
John was there early the next morning to pick Danella up. The DeSoto’s were waiting impatiently for him to bring his fiancée home and bring the family back together. They were planning a small barbecue with the crew and some of their closer friends to welcome the couple home.
Johnny pushed the door open to find a number of nurses gathered around Danella…All of them hugging the girl and saying their goodbyes. Even those who’d been jealous of her relationship with the handsome paramedic had come to wish them well.
The hugs turned to Johnny as the nurses finally made their way to the door. Danella grinned as John made his way to her side, finally finding themselves alone. “Has Dr. Early been in yet?”
She nodded and grinned. “He said I can go…I’ve just been waiting for you.”
John scooped her up and gave her a joyful hug. “Let’s go.”
“Are we going to your apartment?” She asked with a grin.
John regretfully shook his head. “Dr. Early said no excitement and plenty of rest for another week…I’m afraid you wouldn’t get much of that at my apartment,” he teased her as he playfully kissed her nose. She wrinkled it at him in disappointment. “Besides…Roy and Jo are expecting us for a barbecue,” he explained as he set the girl in the wheelchair.
She sighed heavily. “Then take us home Ná’méhόt,” John grinned and pushed the chair out the door. They waved to everyone as they entered the elevator.
The week went by quickly and Johnny joined the DeSoto’s each evening after class to spend time with Danella, parting from her with gentle kisses on the front door step that brought sighs of frustration from both of them. They looked forward to the day when Dr. Early would allow her back to her normal routine and at the same time dreaded it, knowing she would be leaving to return to school once she was released.
John went to Rampart on Friday morning and he met with Dr. Brackett in his office as usual to go over the day’s lesson. Roy and Joanne were bringing Dani in for her checkup with Dr. Early later this afternoon and they were both hoping for at least the weekend together.
Brackett laid a gentle hand on John’s shoulder. “Johnny…I’ve been watching you the last two weeks and I’ve been thinking.”
“About what Doc…?” Johnny asked a bit hesitantly.
“Well…I think you’ve done an excellent job in the classroom and I’d like you to continue.”
John’s face paled. “Does that mean you’re not gonna release me for duty next week? Is something wrong…I…?”
“Whoa…Whoa,” Kel chimed in holding out his hand to stop the flow. “It means that I was thinking of releasing you for Sunday’s shift…” John’s face lit up but Brackett continued. “If you promise to not only finish next week in class when you’re off shift but continue part time to the end. I know it’ll take up some of your days off but you’re a really good teacher Johnny…The guys relate to you and you understand them.”
John chewed his lip…He really didn’t go out that much now that he was engaged and he’d still have most of his afternoons, evenings and weekends free to visit with the DeSoto’s when he wanted too besides…He’d discovered he liked this and he was having a good time. “Okay Doc,” he finally agreed. “But I’d kinda like to go to Montana for Christmas…Maybe take Roy and the family…Would that be a problem?”
Kel grinned… “That wouldn’t be a problem at all. The class should be pretty close to being over by then…Mike and Kent Donaldson could handle it.”
“Thanks Doc.” They shook on it and headed to class but the wheels were turning for Brackett. ‘Christmas in Montana…Hmmm…He’d get to see Steve and Sean again…Wonder how Dixie would like that…?’
Class was over and John took the elevator down to meet Danella, Roy and Joanne in emergency. He spotted the group outside treatment room three and went to join them. “Hey guys?” He greeted.
“Sweetheart,” Jo greeted giving him a kiss as Dani moved into his arms to hug him.
“Have you seen Early yet?” He asked the girl cuddled against him.
She shook her head… “He’ll be here in a few minutes. How did your day go?”
The dark eyes turned to Roy and Jo. “He released me for duty on Sunday,” he told them with a grin.
Roy barely contained the whoop of joy but didn’t even try to hold back on the embrace as he pulled John into his arms, hugging him tightly and pounding his back in excitement. “That’s great Junior…But what happened?” He asked holding John away from him. “He said another week.”
“He said he’d been watching me and he thought I was ready but he wants me to finish the class on my days off. That was the deal.”
Roy was impressed. “He must think you’re a pretty good teacher.”
“Maybe he’s making sure I have another career to fall back on in case I get hurt again.”
“You’d better not,” Danella said teasingly as she poked him in the ribs. “I don’t think we could all take this again,” she reminded him as she caught Roy and Joanne’s eyes. They nodded in agreement as Joe Early came down the hall.
“Afternoon everyone,” he greeted and then turned to Danella at their nods of acknowledgment. “You ready?”
She nodded and gave John’s hand a squeeze before following Joe into the examination room. John turned to his friends. “So what do you have planned for tonight?” He asked casually.
“I thought maybe we could all…” Joanne started to suggest but Roy cut her off.
“I think John and Danella need some time alone since she’s leaving Monday and since the kids are at their Grandma Harriet’s for the night…” Roy waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “I thought it might give us some time alone as well.”
Joanne’s blue eyes sparkled in agreement and her lips turned up at the corners deliciously. “What exactly did you have in mind Mr. DeSoto?” She asked huskily as she stepped into his arms.
“I do believe you started something a couple of weeks ago that I promised to finish,” Roy said as he threw John a wink over the top of her head and the younger man grinned.
“Thank you,” he mouthed silently as Roy turned his attention back to the warm, soft woman he held in his arms.
“Hmmm I seem to vaguely recall that,” she teased.
“Why don’t we go home and we’ll refresh your memory,” Roy suggested. “Johnny will get Danella home won’t ya junior.”
“Sure…Not a problem but it’ll probably be late.”
“You won’t disturb us…I guarantee it,” Roy chuckled as he led his wife toward the door. Jo threw a wave over her shoulder at an amused Johnny as they left.
“Have fun you two,” he called after them with a giggle.
Roy stuck his head back in the door. “You too…,” he said with a conspiratorial laugh.
Johnny was leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest a short time later when the exam room door finally opened. Danella stepped out followed by Joe Early. She threw a grin at Johnny as he raised a questioning eyebrow at the kind, gray haired Doctor. “Well Doc…How is she?”
Joe smiled and rubbed the side of his nose. “Well Johnny…She’s good. She can resume her normal activities but nothing overly strenuous.”
John nodded and grinned… “No mountain climbing then Right Doc?”
Joe chuckled… “No mountain climbing…,” he agreed. “Also no surfing, marathons or wrestling matches.”
Dani giggled at their teasing and took John’s arm. “C’mon my love, before you talk us out of any possible activities.”
Joe laughed as she tugged John down the hall, wishing he was that young again.
John took Danella to dinner…And then down to the beach. She kicked her shoes off and linked her arm through John’s as they strolled along the water’s edge. “I wish we had more time,” Danella murmured sadly. “We lost so much of it this summer.”
“I know…But I’m gonna try and get back to Montana for Christmas.”
She turned to face him, taking hold of his fingers. “That would be wonderful Mé’oo’o…” He grinned as she excitedly tugged at his hands like a little girl. She smiled up at him and John was unable to resist the laughing mouth that seemed to draw him to her. He bent down and kissed her gently. Danella’s arms slid around his neck…Her lips parting under his in invitation.
He pulled back. “Are you ready to go home Ná’méhόt?” He asked with a slow grin.
“Back to Roy’s…?” She asked huskily.
“Is that where you want to go?” He asked softly. She shook her head with a seductive grin. “Good…Cuz I think he’d kill me,” he teased. She looked at him curiously but John just grinned and turned to head back to the rover.
Roy and Jo pushed the front door open. Roy’s arms were wrapped around his wife as she backed into the living room. Their mouths were locked together in a passionate kiss. Roy’s hands slid around to the buttons of his wife’s blouse as she continued her backward progress. She giggled against his mouth. “Do you realize this is the first time we’ve been alone in eight weeks?” She asked softly as her hands tugged his shirt free. “I keep waiting for the doorbell or the phone to ring.
“I will personally strangle the first person who knocks on that door,” Roy warned as he lifted the receiver off the hook and set it aside. He took his wife’s hand and led her up the stairs. She followed with a grin.
Johnny unlocked the door and let Danella precede him into the apartment. “I’ll be moving out of here soon,” he told her softly.
She turned to look at him curiously. “I bought a house about a year ago…It’s a small ranch but it’s a ways out of town so I rented it out. I think I’m gonna move in there before we get married.” She nodded but she recognized the haunted look in his eyes as he tossed the keys on the table. She already knew that Gayle had been here.
She didn’t want Johnny dwelling on that right now…She wanted to make new memories that would drive that awful woman and what had happened from John’s mind. Her hand cupped the side of his face and turned his head toward her. He smiled down into her amber eyes and he took the invitation. His mouth caught hers and his hands slid around her waist to pull her close. Her fingers began to pluck the buttons open on his shirt.
Danella loved John with all her heart and she loved being close to him, touching him and she’d take him anyway she could have him but she had to admit it was frustrating waiting for what came next.
She knew it had to be just as tough on Johnny and she loved that he’d found a way for them to be together but she dreamed of the day they’d be married and he would finally take her to that new place, that new height that was always just tantalizingly out of reach but until then… “I hope you’re up for this Mé’oo’o…,” she teased.
“I’ve been up for this for a week now and I’ve got loads of stamina saved up,” he assured her with a grin. John’s fingers slid beneath the hem of Dani’s blouse caressing the warm bare flesh as he slid it upward, lifting it off over her head. Her hand raised self consciously to cover the scar left from her surgery.
She raised her eyes worriedly to John. “It’s still so ugly,” she whispered forlornly and then bit her lip nervously.
He took her fingers and raised them to his lips. “There is nothing even remotely ugly about you Danella.” His fingers trailed lightly over the healing scar as his mouth caught hers. His hands moved over the soft skin sliding around to the button on her skirt and a moment later it drifted to the floor.
She smiled up at him as her hands trailed over his bare stomach to the button on his jeans. It wasn’t long before his clothes joined hers on the carpet. John kissed her again and Danella found herself lifted off her feet. Her arms looped about his neck as he carried her to his room and deposited her on his bed. He slid in beside her… His mouth once again claiming hers…His hands traveled over her bare skin…His mouth followed until every nerve ending was jumping at the lightest touch of his fingers and lips. Her hands caught his face, pulling him back up to gaze down into her hopeful eyes. He rolled bringing the girl beneath him…His slender hips resting between her thighs…“You asked me what your father said to me that day and I told you I’d tell you later.”
“Yes,” she whispered huskily.
“He told me your mother had um…Been a lot like you and that she was also uh…Determined…He told me he’d failed.”
She giggled in delight. “Really…?” John nodded. “What else did he say my love?”
His mouth caressed her ear…His breath warm on her neck as he whispered…“He said…Remember my son…In the eyes of the tribe…You are already married.”
The smile left her face and her eyes grew warm and seductive as she looped her arms about his neck. “And would you make love to your wife?” She asked softly.
John grinned crookedly… “I thought you’d never ask…” His mouth caught hers and her mouth parted beneath his as his tongue met hers. Danella senses reeled and her skin burned under the onslaught of John’s hands and mouth as they played over her body and trailed soft kisses down her neck to her breasts…
There was no time…no sense of urgency…No wild, passionate abandon that would shock the girl…That could and would come later but right now there was just Danella…Her back arced in anticipation as he rose above her but Johnny moved slowly and carefully…Her hands played over his back, her nails digging into his flesh as they surpassed the first hurdle of Danella’s virginity.
His mouth caught the small gasp of discomfort and he waited patiently until she smiled up at him…Her hands and body once again urging him on…Meeting him move for move and touch for touch. Her hands tangled in his sable hair and every gentle thrust of his hips lifted her higher and higher to a new delirious height, picking up the pace only near the end …His mouth clamped over hers to catch her cry as they reached that pinnacle she’d longed to scale together.
They were both breathing hard and were lightly coated in sweat as John rose up on his elbows to look into her face, smoothing the damp, raven hair from her forehead. He saw what he’d waited for and had hoped to see…The joy and the wonder as she gazed up at him. “Can you do that again?” She whispered in awe.”
John chuckled softly and kissed her gently. “Not just yet Ná’méhόt but soon...,” he assured her.
“Oh,” she mumbled in disappointment.
“I said I had loads of stamina Mé’oo’o…Not unlimited,” he panted with a laugh as he rolled away to lie beside her. She rolled over to curl against his side.
“You’ve done this many times?” She asked softly…Suddenly jealous of the other women who had lain in his arms.
“No baby…,” he said softly as he wrapped the girl in his arms. “Just once…” She looked at him in surprise and he grinned back. “You’re the only one I’ve ever made love to.”
She understood and reached up to kiss him gently.
They made love several more times throughout the night…She’d become like a drug, addictive and intoxicating and he was an addict who couldn’t get enough. Her touch left him breathless and begging for more and she reveled in it but now as the sun began to rise, she lay awake, curled against Johnny…Her legs entangled with his and his head resting on her shoulder as he slept.
Her fingers trailed through his dark hair and tears pooled in her eyes. How could she get on that plane and fly away? Leave him behind…Four months suddenly seemed like four years.
He stirred against her. The dark eyes fluttering open. He lifted his head and leaned back to look into amber pools. He quickly sat up when he saw the tears. “What’s wrong Dani? Did I hurt you?”
“No my love…You could never hurt me…I was just thinking about Monday.”
He kissed her gently. “Dani…We’ve been over this. You have to go back. You have to finish but it’s only four months until I come to Montana…”
“I want to stay here with you. I could transfer.”
“You made a deal with Brackett and you know he’s right…You’d never concentrate here…This is where we’d be every night,” he teased ruefully. “It’s only seven months until you’re out of the classroom and then you’ll be here.”
“I want to be with you now.” She looked into his stubborn dark eyes and knew she’d lost. Johnny wanted her to have what his mother didn’t…Security. A career in case something happened to him. She sighed in disappointment, knowing he’d stand firm about this. “Very well Mé’oo’o,” she said softly as the tears slipped down her cheek.
“Aw Dani, don’t cry,” he breathed out as he pulled her into his arms. His lips kissed the tears away before catching her mouth with his. Her hand slid across his stomach and his body reacted instantly. He smiled down into her eyes before pressing her back against the pillows.
Roy woke early the next morning…He sighed at the feel of his wife’s naked body pressed against his own. Her fingers tangled in the hair on his chest. He pressed a light kiss against her neck and slid from the bed. He padded to the bathroom and turned the shower on. He smiled to himself at the memory last night’s activities but the smile faded slightly.
He hadn’t heard Johnny and Danella return home and he knew Joanne would be upset by it. He hoped they’d just been quiet about it and he simply hadn’t heard them but he doubted it. The shower curtain was suddenly whisked aside and Joanne stood there…She smiled slowly and stepped into the shower closing the curtain behind her. Roy pushed the thoughts of John and Danella out of his mind as his mouth lowered to meet Jo’s.
He was getting dressed a while later when she came back into the room. “Danella didn’t come home last night,” she said softly.
Roy’s blue eyes caught hers. “I kinda figured she wouldn’t.”
Joanne giggled. “So did I,” she said drily.
“Are you mad at him?” Roy asked.
“Can I ever stay mad at him?” She asked ruefully.
Roy chuckled knowing the young paramedic had Joanne wrapped around his little finger. “Let’s go find em. We can go out for breakfast somewhere.”
John and Danella were dressed and ready to head for home to face Joanne when they heard a knock at the door. “That’s probably Roy and Jo,” he said warningly as his eyebrow rose in a ‘boy, are we in for it’ gesture drawing a giggle from Danella as he opened the door. “Morning Roy,” he said cheerfully. “Hey Jo…,” he greeted stepping back to let the other couple in.
“Morning you two,” Jo said as her eyes swept Danella. The younger woman shot her a grin and a wink and Joanne knew the girl had finally won. She smiled back understandingly.
“Jo…,” Johnny began. “I can explain…”
Joanne held up her hand. “We just came to take you to breakfast.”
John grinned and his eyes shot to Roy. The older man smirked back at him and John breathed a sigh of relief. “What made you cave?” Roy whispered aside to Johnny.
“Her father reminded me that by tribal law we’re already married,” he whispered back with a grin.
Roy slapped him off the back drawing a grin from the younger man and a giggle from Joanne. Danella grabbed her purse, throwing a grin at Johnny as she followed the older woman out. “Let’s go junior?” Roy said with a laugh.
They returned to the house after breakfast and Danella went to pack her belongings. She’d made it clear at breakfast that she intended to spend what little time she had left in California with Johnny. Roy and Joanne had agreed. Jo went to help her while Roy and John sat on the deck sipping lemonade. “So junior…Are you excited about coming back to work?”
“Are you kidding? I was afraid this would never happen Roy. I really thought for a while there that I was never gonna see again.”
“I know…So did I. I was planning on taking the Engineers exam if you didn’t come back.”
John’s mouth dropped open. “You still thinkin about it?” He asked sounding a little worried.
“Not if you’re coming back.”
John grinned but it faded. “I don’t wanna hold you back Roy.”
The older man’s arm wrapped affectionately around John’s neck. “You’ve never held me back Johnny. I stayed because I love what I do…And I’m particularly fond of the company.”
John grinned… “You can’t stay forever ya know…”
“When you’re ready to move on…I will too. You just let me know.”
“That won’t be for a while yet…,” he promised.
The older man nodded toward the house…“Is Dani gonna be able to leave you?” Roy asked softly.
“She was crying about it this morning…,” John replied forlornly. “I don’t know if I can let her leave me.”
“I know…I know…You want her to have her education.”
He nodded. “It’s just a few more months but man…I’m gonna miss her. She makes me feel things…,” he looked at Roy a bit sheepishly. “Things I’ve never felt before,” he admitted looking a little embarrassed.
Roy grinned in understanding. He felt that way about Jo too. “It’s always better when it’s the right one…Your other half junior…The piece that’s been missing,” he said scruffing the dark hair gently. John threw him a smile as the sliders opened. The two women joined them, ending the conversation. They headed inside a while later. “I’ll see you in the morning Junior,” Roy said as John picked up Danella’s suitcases and headed for the door.
“I’ll pick up Dani Monday morning and bring her by the station to say goodbye to the guys and then you can take her to the airport,” Joanne told him.
“Thanks Jo,” the young man replied. John and Dani threw them a wave as they drove away.
“I guess we need to go pick up the kids,” Jo said with a small sigh as she closed the door.
“I think they can wait a little longer,” Roy teased as he scooped his wife into his arms. She giggled as he carried her up the stairs.
John and Danella came back to his apartment…He unlocked the door and carried her suitcases inside he turned and found himself with an armful of warm, soft woman. Her mouth lifted to his and he kissed her gently. “I was gonna ask you what you wanted to do this afternoon but I guess I already know,” he teased against her mouth with a chuckle.
Her fingers were already tugging his belt buckle loose as she backed toward the bedroom. John grinned and quickly followed.
John donned his uniform for the first time in over two months. Danella watched him proudly from the bed where she sat dressed in nothing but one of John’s shirts. He grinned at the image she presented. She crawled across the mattress and rose up on her knees to pin his name plate and badge to his shirt for him.
Her arms slid around his neck, playing with the hair that curled onto his collar. “You look so incredibly handsome Ná’méhόt,” she told him softly but couldn’t contain the giggle as his hands slid beneath the shirt to caress her bare behind.
“You look incredibly beautiful and I wish I could stay home with you this one last day.”
She placed her fingers gently over his lips. “I would not take this moment from you for anything…It’s where you belong and you almost lost it…I will not be selfish and keep you from it. You go to your other love…I’m not jealous of that one.”
John grinned and dropped a kiss on the girl’s lips. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Danella smiled and nodded. “Go Mé’oo’o.”
John pulled into the station fifteen minutes later. He sat for a long while staring at what had become a second home…A safe haven just as Roy and Joanne’s house was. His friends and family were here and this was where he belonged. He knew he would have gone on to do something else if his sight hadn’t returned but he was fireman…It was his calling and he’d never have been truly happy doing anything else.
Roy’s Porsche pulled in beside him and the older man climbed out. “Mornin Junior…Feels like old times huh?” He asked coming around to John’s door. The younger man grinned and stepped out of the vehicle.
“I never thought I’d see her again,” he said as he nodded at the squad through the open back door. “She’s beautiful,” he said softly.
Roy hooked his arm around his partner’s neck and tugged him toward the station. “Let’s go junior…I imagine there’s a group of guys who are gonna be thrilled to see you.”
“Didn’t Cap tell em?”
Roy shook his head. “He wanted it to be a surprise…Besides he didn’t want the phantom to be waiting for ya on your first day back.”
John grinned… “I appreciate that,” he laughed as he followed Roy into the station. Several members of the departing B shifts engine crew stopped in surprise at the sight of the dark haired paramedic.
“JOHNNY!” they began but Roy waved them quiet.
“Shhh,” Roy whispered.
They nodded their understanding and patted the younger man on the back. “Welcome back Gage,” they said quietly. John grinned and continued on.
They stopped in the rec room door as they heard Hank’s voice warning his crew. “Chuck won’t be in today guys so let’s be sure to make his replacement feel welcome.”
“Who are stuck with this time?” Marco asked.
“Not Brice again…?” Mike questioned in disgust remembering the last time Chuck had been off.
“Man… I can’t wait for Johnny to get back. It’s getting real boring around here with all these temps,” Chet complained.
Roy grinned and patted his partner on the back, giving him a light shove. “Well Chester B…Let’s see if we can liven things up,” John said as he sauntered into the room.
Mike, Marco and Chet all spun around at the sound of John’s voice. Dwyer and Carlson looked up from the table. A tumult of voices greeted him at the sight of his uniform.
“Are you Chuck’s replacement?”
“Are you back permanently?”
“Man it’s good to see you…”
“We’ve missed you John…”
“Bout time you quit goofin off and got back to work Gage.”
John grinned but the smile faded as Hank came to stand in front of him. The dark eyes lifted to meet his Captains as the older man’s hand came to rest on John’s shoulder. “Welcome home son,” he said gently.
John’s mouth trembled briefly before he got it under control. “Thanks…It’s nice to be home Cap,” he said softly as Hank pulled him into a hearty, back slapping embrace. John felt mauled as the others closed in around him to shake his hand, slap his shoulder or scruff the dark hair affectionately.
“How’s Danella John?” Cap asked.
“She’s good Cap. Doctor Early released her to normal activity Friday. She’s at my place.”
Hank’s eyebrow rose questioningly. “At your place…?”
John grinned. “Her uh…Father reminded me that by tribal law…We’re already married,” he explained smugly.
The others laughed in amusement at the obvious joy in their young friends face. They were just glad to have him back. “When’s she leaving pal?” Hank asked.
The joy fled and resignation replaced it. “Tomorrow morning Cap,” he sighed.
Hank nodded and patted John’s shoulder. “Not much longer John…She’ll be here for good.” John nodded as Captain Stanley stepped back… “Okay men…,” he said surveying his crew that was finally back the way it should be. “Roll call.”
They headed for the apparatus bay. The Station control unit sounded about halfway through…It was sweet music to John’s ears. “Station 51…Man trapped…5955 Park Lane…5-9-5-5 Park Lane Cross street Elm… Time out…08:13.”John ran for the squad and slid into HIS seat, setting his helmet in place. He glanced up as Mike settled in behind the wheel of the engine and received a wink and a thumbs up from the dark haired engineer. John grinned and took the paper from Roy as the rigs began to roll.
They arrived at the scene and Roy couldn’t believe his eyes. A radio tower loomed before them. He put the squad in park and climbed out, coming around to join his partner. Cap and the crew stood looking up at the man dangling precariously from a scaffold.
John looked up and began to pull the ropes and safety harnesses from the squad but five voices stopped him in his tracks. “Gage…Why don’t you stay down here…?”
He turned around in surprise, ready to argue that he could do his job but found five grins of amusement greeting him. He smiled in relief and began to cinch on his safety belt.
“John you be careful Pal…”
“Don’t worry Cap…I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to safety,” the younger man assured him.
“Roy?” Cap called. The blonde paramedic turned as John started to climb. “Break him in slow huh?” The older man said quietly…Concern evident in his eyes.
“Don’t worry Cap…He may have recovered but I haven’t,” Roy chuckled as he followed his partner.
The two men reached the scaffolding and locked the carabiners to the frame. “Hey can you hear me?” John called to the man.
“Yeah…I can hear you.”
“Are you hurt anywhere?” John asked.
“Nope…The rope didn’t lock on one side. The scaffold slipped and I just slid off. I can’t get a hold of anything to pull myself back up.”
“Can you reach him Junior?” Roy asked.
“Yeah…Yeah I think so.” John leaned out and grabbed the victim’s rope and swung him toward the tower and into Roy’s waiting grip. John’s helmet was dislodged and tumbled fifteen feet to the concrete below.
Roy and John both watched it go. John looked at Roy with a grimace as down below his Captain looked up and ran his gloved hand over his face in exasperation. Mike, Marco and Chet began to laugh. “Some things never change huh Cap?” Mike said with a grin.
“Junior…You’re too much,” Roy said with a shake of his head as he worked to get a new belt around their victim. John grinned and got to work tying the rope off. They soon had the victim safely on the ground.
Cap walked over and dropped John’s helmet on his head. “Lose something Pal?”
“Sorry Cap,” he mumbled red faced as he turned to his patient.
The two paramedics responded to several routine calls and one fire over the course of the day. Roy and Hank were both grateful that John was getting a chance to get into the swing of things slowly and there were no major events...The night remained peaceful.
The guys were awakened by the SCU at seven AM. They were still shrugging their suspenders into place when the back door opened and Joanne and Danella came in. The ordeal she’d been through hadn’t detracted from her beauty one bit…Nor had the early morning hour…The girl was still lovely. Marco and Chet heaved a sigh as she moved into John’s arms and rose on tip toe to kiss him warmly.
Greetings were exchanged all around. “I just wanted to come by and say goodbye to you all. It was so nice meeting Johnny’s friends.”
“Well it was wonderful to meet you Danella, I’m just sorry that things went so wrong for you both,” Cap apologized.
She shrugged… “Hopefully things will only get better from here,” she said hopefully.
“With Gage around…That is wishful thinkin,” Chet said snidely, grunting as Marco’s elbow caught his ribs.
John shot him a glare but Danella put the Irishman in his place. “I don’t think things could get much better than the other night, do you Ná’méhόt?” she asked as her arms slid around John’s waist…Her head resting against his chest.
John grinned and hugged her to him. “We’ve just scratched the surface baby…I still have lots to teach you,” he assured her in a whisper.
“I will look forward to it,” she breathed as her lips caught his,
Chet scowled while Roy and Joanne chuckled at the obvious jealousy in his glare. Roy slapped the curly haired fire fighter off the back. “Maybe we’ll bring Little Fox back from Montana at Christmas Chet. I bet she’d love to teach you a few things.”
“Will you be coming as well Roy?” Dani asked excitedly.
“We’re certainly gonna try.”
“Montana?” Cap asked.
“Oh I wish you all could come…,” Dani said with a grin. “To see where Dances with Fire grew up and meet everyone.” Chet chuckled at the name.
John grinned ruefully, ignoring the Irishman. “That would be great Mé’oo’o but I don’t think HQ would give us all the time off.”
The others nodded their agreement. “We have four months,” Hank said thoughtfully. “Who knows what could happen.”
The C shift crew began to amble in…Many of them hadn’t had the opportunity to meet John’s fiancée and introductions were made. Regretfully time refused to stand still and John finally turned to Danella. “We have to go baby,” he said softly.
He felt her hand tighten around his but she nodded. Hugs and goodbye kisses were exchanged…Roy and Joanne followed them out. “We’ll meet you at the airport you two.”
John and Danella strolled through the airport hand in hand. They were both dragging their feet. Roy and Joanne exchanged a sad glance as they followed behind them. They’d both grown quite close to the young woman and they were both going to miss her terribly but what tore at their heart even more was the obvious heartache that the young couple was going through and knowing there was nothing they could do to help.
They reached the gate and Danella turned to say goodbye to the older couple who’d taken her in for the summer. “Thank you so much for everything,” she said hugging Joanne. “Especially with the wedding and letting me be a part of your family.”
Jo hugged her tightly. “I wish you had more time together…But I’m glad you finally won the battle,” she whispered conspiratorially. “I’m so glad you’re going to marry John and be a part of our family.”
Dani nodded and turned to Roy. “Thank you Roy.”
“For what…?” He asked in amusement.
“For taking care of him…For loving him and helping him through everything…He needs you.”
“He needs us both sweetie…” Roy hugged her to him and kissed her forehead. “We’ll see you at Christmas okay?” He promised.
She nodded and turned to John. He gazed down into her amber eyes and he leaned down to catch her mouth with his own…Gentle and lingering for a long moment. “Ne’mé‘hotâtse Danella,” he whispered against her lips.
The airport loud speaker announced her flight and Danella wrapped her arms tightly about John’s neck. “Four months seems so long.”
“It’ll fly by…I’ll be there before you know it…”
“I want to stay,”she pleaded hopefully.
“You have to go.”
Tears spilled over her lashes and she kissed him fiercely. “I love you John Gage,” she whispered as she stepped away. She waved one last time to Roy and Joanne before she turned away.
“I’ll bring you something nice for Christmas,” John called after her.
“Just bring me you Mé’oo’o,” she replied throwing him a kiss. She turned to walk away and a slow smile spread across her face as she rubbed her flat stomach softly, praying that she would also have a gift for Johnny.
John, Roy and Joanne waited until the plane was in the air before turning to head for home. There was a look of sadness in the dark eyes but John threw them a smile. “So you think you might be able to come with me for Christmas?”
“That would be fun Roy…I’d love to see where Johnny grew up…At least now that HE’S gone,” Jo stressed.
John knew she meant his Uncle George, who’d been killed in a fire the last time John had been home. He grinned. “I’d love for Jo and the kids to meet Blue Eagle and Little Fox.”
Roy saw two hopeful faces and his smile joined theirs. “We’ll do our best and we might have to skimp on some other things but okay Junior…We’ll find a way.”
John threw an arm around both of them as they walked up the terminal. Roy’s hand scruffed the dark hair playfully…“Let’s go home Junior.”
‘Christmas in Lame Deer’ is the sequel to this story and I will be working on it over the next few months but I have several others that may come before it. Younger Johnny and Roy stories that will fill in as part of the saga as well as one that is a stand alone story and a separate past from my usual stories. I hope you enjoy them.
*TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.
* Code L - Police assistance required.
**Images of Danella are actually the stunningly beautiful Native American Model Brenda Shad.
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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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