Home | Emergency Stories by Tammy | Send Stories
It was a crisp, clear January morning in Carson when twenty seven year old paramedic Roy DeSoto entered the locker room of station 51. His young partner… twenty three year old John Gage, sat on the bench in front of his locker tying his shoes.
“Mornin…,” Roy greeted as he gave John a slap on the back.
“Mornin…,” John mumbled.
“Rough night…?” Roy asked, curious about his friend’s half hearted reply.
“Tired I guess. I didn’t sleep well.” Johnny was leaning forward slightly, his face turned away from Roy. "I think I may have a cold comin on.”
Roy reached over to place his hand on his partner’s forehead. “You’re a little warm…not to bad though.”
Johnny batted Roy’s hand away half heartedly…"I’m fine Roy, I told you it was just a cold or something.”
“Well I guess you won’t be interested in this trip I’m goin on then…?” Roy said sounding a bit disappointed.
“What…? You mean the ski trip?”
“Yeah…Joanne and I were going with our friends Matt and Betsy…” John nodded. “Well…Joanne’s mom slipped and broke her ankle and her Dad’s away on business so Joanne’s going up there with the kids and I thought…well…we thought, you might like to go instead but if you’re sick…,” he said with a shrug.
“Are you kidding…?” He asked, cold forgotten..."I’d love to go…I mean I haven’t been skiing in years…but Man, this trip sounded great…I mean I’m sorry Joanne can’t go and all but yeah, I’d love to go…”
Roy shook his head in amusement at his partner. He suspected when John got going, he sometimes forgot to breathe. “Okay Johnny…,”Roy cut him off, “if you think you’ll be up to it?”
“Yeah…yeah I’ll be up to it.”
“Great, after we get off tomorrow, you can go home and get your stuff and I’ll pick you up. We have to meet Matt and Betsy at the airport. Matt has his own plane and he’s gonna fly us up to the resort…”
“Sound’s great…,” Johnny agreed as he and Roy made their way to the Rec room for coffee. Gage had perked up considerably, giving Marco Lopez and Mike Stoker a friendly slap on the shoulder as he passed. “Mornin, mornin guys… mornin Chet…,” he greeted with a grin as he headed for the stove.
“What are you so cheerful about Gage…?” Chet asked as he watched the younger man practically bounce past him. The twinkle in his eye made his crew mates sit up, expecting another Gage VS Kelly match heating up. “You looked like something the cat dragged in this morning. Now you’re acting like you won a trip or something.”
Roy smiled, “He did sorta…”
John shot Roy a smirk and grabbed two cups, pouring one for himself and then his partner. Chet turned to look at Gage…
“Yeah…? So where ya goin…?”
“Skiing…Mount Shasta,” said John smugly.
“Um…Roy, isn’t that where you’re goin?” Mike asked.
“Yup…Joanne’s mom had an accident so Jo’s goin there to look after her for a couple of days…so I asked Johnny if he’d like to go instead.”
“Is that safe…?” Chet asked.
John looked at Chet with indignation… "Safe?” He questioned.
“Yeah safe…I mean you know how accident prone you are…you might hit a tree.”
“Or get caught in an avalanche…,” Marco added. The young, dark haired paramedic shot Lopez a betrayed look.
Johnny splayed his hand over his chest… “I am not accident prone…I’m…I,” he stammered.
“Not accident prone…?” Chet laughed in disbelief. “Who got radiation poisoning in that lab a couple of months ago? Who fell down the side of the cliff and twisted his knee…? Not accident prone…hah! You can’t get down a flight of stairs without twisting your ankle or something…”
John opened his mouth to protest but Captain Stanley stuck his head into the room and interrupted his response. “Hey…roll call sometime today guys…?”
They scrambled from their chairs and headed out to the apparatus bay. Johnny grumbling all the way… “I’m not accident prone… I can’t believe he said that Roy.”
The older man shook his head in aggravation with Kelly. He knew Chet had given Johnny his obsession for the day and the blonde paramedic would be hearing about this for the rest of the shift and most likely through the entire ski trip if he didn’t do something to smooth his young friends wounded pride.
After roll call, the crew moved off to their assigned chores. John and Roy headed for the dayroom and DeSoto could tell that the younger man was still irritated by the remarks of his friends by the way Johnny was banging around the kitchen area. He waited for the tirade to begin, but was surprised a moment later by John’s quietly voiced question…
“Do you think I’m accident prone Roy…?”
Roy sighed… John wasn’t accident prone as much as he was over eager and impulsive. The older man tried to find the right way to phrase it without bruising Johnny’s feelings but he needed to try. Chet was right to some degree, John did get hurt more often than the others but not because he was clumsy, in fact Roy was sometimes surprised at how graceful John’s lanky frame could move when he had to.
John’s injuries were caused by his headstrong and youthful exuberance and his unwillingness to lose a victim. Roy knew he’d settle down in time, he just needed to learn patience but in the meantime he brought Roy near to breakdown with the risks he took. Roy frequently had to hold him back while they thought things through which irritated Johnny no end and resulted in a lot of disagreements and while Roy hated playing the senior partner card with Johnny…he’d do it when he had to. John always seemed to know when the time came to back down at least about work…personally...he could be relentless.
All told though Johnny was an exceptional Paramedic and an excellent Fire Fighter and he and Roy made a team that was envied by others. They’d become best friends in the year they’d been partners and Roy knew the young man extremely well. Most of the time Johnny valued his opinion but not always...
“I think…,” Roy said quietly, “that you’re one of the best paramedics this Department has.”
John grinned but it faded as Roy continued. “You’re also young, headstrong, stubborn and impulsive.”
“Anything good…?” Johnny asked, a little hurt that Roy felt that way.
“All of it…,” Roy said…
“And none of it.” He continued at John’s confused look. “These aren’t bad qualities Johnny, in the right place at the right time. I think that you care about the people we’re sent to help and because of that you sometimes risk your own safety to do the right thing for them.”
John was thoughtful for a moment…“Is that wrong…?" He asked softly, really wanting to know what Roy thought.
“Not to want to save a life but how you accomplish it…sometimes you put yourself in danger. Look Johnny …I guess what I’m trying to say is that you need to be more careful. Slow down a bit and think things through.”
“Sometimes there isn’t time to think it through, you just have to act…,” he argued.
“Johnny, I know what happens to you is usually not because you’re careless or reckless or any of that and certainly not accident prone. It’s because you’re saving someone else and you put your own personal safety on the back burner while you’re doing it but remember something… you can’t help someone else if you’re injured trying to rescue them.”
John was staring at the floor listening carefully to his friend. Roy rested his hand on his partners shoulder… "Just try to be more careful…keep your helmet on your head, your gloves on your hands and the air mask on your face and I’ll be a lot less gray when we’re done with a shift.”
“I don’t mean to be a problem…”
“You’re not a problem Johnny and you’re absolutely one of the best at what you do, I just worry about you…I’d really hate to lose ya…who would I go skiing and fishing with?”
John grinned and nodded as the Station Control Unit began to sound. Johnny and Roy ran for the squad.
“Station 51…warehouse fire. 5955 South Palm Crest Dr…5-9-5-5 South Palm Crest Dr, cross Street Maple. Time out 10:18…”
"Station 51…KMG365,” Cap responded. He handed the slip to Roy as he ran past the squad. Roy passed it to Johnny as the two vehicles began to roll.
When they arrived at the warehouse it was completely engulfed at the far end. Cap was off the Engine and shouting orders to the crew. A man ran over to him covered with soot…his hands showing the deep pink of second degree burns. “My secretary…she’s still in there…,” he yelled, pointing frantically at the building… “I couldn’t get her out.”
“John…Roy,” Cap called directing their attention toward the man. “Tell those two men where you last saw her…,” he said pointing at Gage and DeSoto…. Roy was already suited up and Johnny was still shrugging his SBA into place as the man approached them.
The man was pointing about halfway down the length of the building…"The office, it’s there.”
“Okay, got it,” Roy replied. “C’mon Johnny…” They ran for the building while the crew worked to keep the blaze contained at the far end. They entered through the main door and began a quick search. Thankfully it was mostly open area with only a couple of small closed rooms but it was filled with heavy, black smoke.
DeSoto took the first door while Gage moved to the second. The door was locked and the sign said ladies room. Johnny sighed…why did people seem to always do that? Locking the door as if they thought that would keep the smoke and the flames out. The dark haired fireman took off his glove and placed his hand on the door…it wasn’t hot. Remembering what Roy had said, he replaced his glove and then kicked the door in.
The woman sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. She had wet paper towels over her nose and mouth and she was coughing harshly, her eyes pouring tears.
John ran to her and without a second thought, tipped back his helmet and removed his air mask. He placed it over her face. She clutched at John’s arm as he held it firmly to her face, taking several deep rasping breaths before he finally helped her to her feet.
Roy came into the room, his blue eyes taking in the scene and shook his head in irritation. Some things would simply never change. Johnny couldn’t or wouldn’t risk the victim no matter how many times Roy reminded him to keep that mask on.
The blonde Fireman joined his partner and they half carried, half walked the woman out of the building. John had tears running from his eyes and was coughing slightly from the smoke by the time they exited the warehouse.
“You never learn Junior…,” Roy said, using the nickname he’d dubbed Johnny with the first week they’d trained together.
“I had to do something Roy…”
“I know…how about keeping the mask on you and carrying her out of the building…,” Roy said sarcastically… "I mean she was still breathing on her own right?”
“Well yeah but…”
“Now look at you, you’ve got smoke inhalation…again.”
“It’s not bad Roy…,” he said with a slight rasp as he tried unsuccessfully to stifle another cough. “I’ll be fine.”
“Sit…,” Roy said pushing his partner onto the bumper of the squad. He pulled the mask from John’s hand and put it over the younger man’s face. “Don’t talk…breathe…”
John rolled his eyes but obeyed his partner as Roy grabbed the Biophone and drug box and headed over to where the woman was sitting and wiping her eyes as she breathed from the mask Captain Stanley had placed over her face.
“How are you doing…?” He asked her gently.
“I’m doing okay…now,” she said…her watery green eyes watching Johnny. “Is he okay?” She asked.
“He’ll be fine in a minute.”
“He saved my life,” she said softly.
“Yeah…yeah, he did…,” Roy said... looking back at his partner, more proud of him now than annoyed. Johnny took a lot of ribbing for the injuries he took on the job, maybe they needed to give him a pat on the back once in a while for the lives he saved as well.
Dixie saw Johnny coming down the hall…grimy, sweat streaked and still trying to suppress the cough that was fighting to escape. He looked up and saw the pretty Blonde Nurse’s eyes on him and threw her a smile. “Hey Dix…how’s that lady?”
“She’ll be fine, but she can’t seem to stop talking about you.”
“Yeah…says you saved her life.”
John grinned, “Well not really… well sorta…I mean I just went in and got her out."
Dixie smiled as she walked with him towards a treatment room. “She says you took off your air mask and gave it to her.” Dixie said casting a sideways glance at the young man beside her.
“Well yeah but… what else could I do?" He hedged, beginning to sense that this was no longer a casual conversation.
“You might try keeping it on until you get the victim out,” she unknowingly echoed Roy’s words. Johnny knew she’d spoken to his partner. John could tell from the tone that Dixie was upset with him. “Just listen to you…you’re wheezing… and don’t even try to hold back the cough.”
“Dixie, it’s my job…,” he began…but she cut him off with a finger wagging in his face.
“It’s not your job to recklessly throw your life away,” Dixie snapped.
“It wasn’t that dangerous…”
“This time…,” she pointed out. She waved her hand toward the treatment room…"Go…, Kel will be here in a minute.”
“I don’t need a Doctor…,” John argued.
“This is my job John Gage,” Dixie responded. “Now go…” She gave him a poke in the chest to help propel him through the door. John back pedaled into the room to escape from Dixie’s wrath, putting his hands up in surrender and sighing in defeat.
Dr. Kelly Brackett listened to Johnny’s lungs... he was rasping slightly but not enough for the Doctor to take him off duty. “Okay Johnny, you’re good to go but do not irritate those lungs anymore today,” he instructed sternly.
“How about some clean Mountain air Doc?" Johnny asked with a grin as he threw his shirt back on.
“Are you goin somewhere…?”
“Skiing with Roy tomorrow morning… We’re goin up to Mt Shasta resort with some friends of his.”
“Don’t overdo it Johnny…sounds like you may have a cold coming on as well.”
“I do and I’ll be real careful tonight Doc…if we get called out I mean.”
“Be careful on the slopes as well John…,” Kel teased. “You know how you are?”
John’s mouth dropped open briefly before snapping closed to compress into a tight line. “Thanks Doc... I will,” he finally grumbled.
Kel grinned at the now irritated paramedic. “Have a good time tomorrow.”
“Doc…? Tell Dix I said I’ll be more careful.”
“I will Johnny,” Kel said…giving the younger man a light slap on the back. “Now get out of my E.R. hose jockey.” John grinned.
“Good to go partner…,” John said as he left the treatment room.
Roy had been waiting just outside the door. “Did he clear you…?”
“Yup…just told me not to irritate my lungs anymore tonight...”
“Yeah or your partner…,”
“Let’s go then. We’re both gonna need a goodnights sleep tonight. It’ll be a long day on the mountain tomorrow." He steered Johnny toward the exit.
Thankfully it was a quiet night but Johnny’s coughing woke Roy a couple of times, the lingering effects of yesterday’s smoke inhalation and an oncoming cold. When the others woke the next morning Johnny was already up and dressed and rummaging through his locker. Roy came in still in bunker pants and Tee shirt. Johnny finally located what he’d been looking for, triumphantly pulling out a small box of over the counter cold pills.
“Hah…found you.” John’s voice was mildly raspy and his nose sounded stuffy.
“You okay…?” Roy asked.
“I’m fine…,” John and Roy said together…Roy’s voice taking on a teasing lilt. John’s eyes narrowed as he glared at his partner.
“I mean it…it’s nothing one of these won’t cure.”
“You’re gonna be spending two and a half days in 30° temperatures and you already don’t feel well. Are you sure you wanna do this Johnny?”
The younger man rolled his eyes and sighed at his friends over protectiveness. “I’m sure Roy,” he answered in frustration.
“Alright, alright settle down,” the older man gave in with an exasperated look at his young partner… “Go home and pack…I’ll pick you up at nine thirty and we’ll head out to the airport. Roy picked up the cold pills and handed them to Johnny. “Bring those with you,” he said.
John just shook his head and snatched the pills from Roy and shoved them in his pocket…, “See ya in an hour.”
When Roy showed up Johnny was just bringing the last of his things out of the apartment, leaning them against the wall. “All set…?” Roy asked as he climbed from his car.
“I think I’ve got everything,” Johnny said. “I had to do some digging to find it all. My Aunt gave them to me for Christmas one year, but I haven’t used em in a long time.” John definitely sounded better so the cold pills must have been doing their job.
Roy helped his partner load his stuff into Joanne’s station wagon and they climbed in and headed to the airport.
They arrived at the small private airport a half hour later. Roy left Johnny to start pulling their suitcases and gear from the back of the wagon while he went to search for Matt and Betsy. Roy found the middle aged couple sipping coffee in the small lounge. “Hey Matt…,” he said giving the older man an enthusiastic hand shake. “Bets…,” he greeted, kissing the woman on the cheek.
“Jo sends her love…she couldn’t make it…her mom broke her ankle so she had to go down to San Diego to help her out for a couple of days. I brought a friend with me instead…Is that okay?”
“Sure Roy, no problem. We’ll come and help you carry your gear to the plane,” Matt replied as they set off to the parking lot.
“I sure hope Jo’s mom is alright?” Betsy commented.
“She’ll be fine.”
“Is the friend you brought that partner of yours that Jo told us about at dinner a couple of weeks ago?” Betsy asked.
“Good…he sounded charming,” Betsy said with a laugh.
“That’s Johnny…,” Roy said with a laugh… “Charming…” They continued their conversation until they arrived at the car. “Matt, Betsy…this is my partner…John Gage… Johnny this is Matt and Betsy Palmer."
“Hi, nice to meet you…,” John said, shaking hands with both of them. “Um…I hope you don’t mind the change of plans.” A crooked half smile spread across his features as he stuck his hands in his pockets.
“Now I know what Joanne meant…,” Betsy said with a cryptic sigh. Matt and Roy both laughed remembering the conversation. Joanne had told them about Roy’s young friend. She’d mentioned his boyish personality, the crooked grin and the brown eyes that could charm even his toughened partner into giving into his schemes on occasion. ‘When he turns them on he was hard to say no to…he’s worse than having another child,’ Jo had told them.
Johnny was looking suspiciously between them… “What exactly did she say…?” he asked.
“Never mind…,” They all three answered in unison, knowing Roy wouldn’t want Johnny to know he had that weapon to use against him or his wife. They laughed and began to gather the gear but Johnny stood there stuttering…
“Wait…hold up…what did she…”
“You comin Junior…?” Roy called back, cutting him off.
“Yeah, but…” John picked up what was left and followed them to the plane. By the time he caught up they had changed the subject and were talking about the weather conditions on Mount Shasta.
The double Engine plane took off twenty minutes later. The four aboard were in a great mood. They discussed everything from movies to music…sports to jobs. Matt was a park Ranger on Mt Baldy and beside the routine part of his job, Matt was part of the search and rescue team. He and Betsy both were avid skiers and John was a little concerned that he was about to embarrass himself in comparison…but this was just for fun and John knew Roy would stick with him.
They were a short way from their destination when the plane suddenly bucked and lost altitude. John and Roy both automatically clutched the armrest and looked at each other…their eyes widening in alarm. “What was that all about…?” Roy asked in concern.
Matt was checking gauges and flicking switches. He tapped the oil pressure gauge.
Betsy was wide eyed… "Matt we’ve got black smoke pouring out.
“Oil pressures dropping…,” Matt picked up the radio…"Mount Shasta tower this is November, Tango 92158, Mayday…mayday…,” Matt called.
“Are we going down…?” Roy yelled above the roar of the engine…”
“Yeah Roy…I think we are. I’m gonna try and set us down in that clearing over there.” The engine sputtered... “Make sure those seatbelts are tight.” The radio crackled to life.
“November, Tango 92158… what is your location…?”
“Twenty to twenty five miles south of Mount Shasta resort…,” Matt yelled into the mic.
“Repeat your position…you’re breaking up…”
Roy looked at John as Matt continued to talk to the tower. John was trying to maintain his composure. His eyes locking with Roy’s… “Oh man, this is not the way I planned to go out Roy.”
“Me either Johnny…” The plane was dropping fast…too fast…Johnny knew they weren’t going to make the clearing. The trees were looming before them. Roy and John heard the snapping and cracking of branches against the bottom of the plane.
“Oh my God…,” John whispered. He stiffened back into his seat as the mountain loomed before them…Roy was doing the same. They felt their stomachs rising as fast as the plane was descending. Betsy screamed as one wing sheared from the plane. Branches slapped at the windshield and sides of the small aircraft. The plane sank lower…what was left of the landing gear clipped the branches of a stand of pines. The plane skewed sideways, slamming the tail section into a towering pine…ripping pieces of it away like wet tissue paper. The small plane flipped putting its occupants into a dizzying tumble before finally settling to the ground and skidding to a halt in the snow at the base of a large hill. The engine began to smoke.
Johnny groaned as he began to waken. Every muscle in his body hurt and he could feel blood trickling down his forehead and his ribcage was throbbing. His stomach was aching horribly from where the seatbelt had cut into him on impact.
John suddenly realized he was wedged into the tail section of the plane. His seat had been ripped from its moorings and he was still strapped to it. He unhooked the belt and pushed himself to his knees.
His Partner and best friend was unconscious and hanging limply to the side, held in place by the seatbelt strapped around his waist. John felt for a carotid and sighed in relief as he felt it beating strongly beneath his fingers. Roy groaned softly as he started to come around. “Roy…can you hear me…?” Roy fell silent once again. Johnny braced his friends weight with his shoulder and let the seatbelt loose, crying out in pain as the older man’s weight came down on him. “Hold on Roy, I’ve got you…,” he panted.
John laid him down as best he could in the cramped confines. Johnny tried the door but it was jammed. He nearly punched the door in frustration. He sat down and kicked at the unyielding metal. Pain shot through him almost doubling him up but he couldn’t give up, he had to get these people out of this plane. He wrapped his arms around his ribs and kicked with both feet...the door flew open. Gasping and dizzy with pain he still managed to turn and grasp his partner under the arms and began to pull him from the plane.
Johnny dragged his partner a safe distance from the plane and leaned him up against a tree. He felt his pulse once more, reassuring himself that his friend was okay. He checked him quickly looking for blood or broken bones but other than a nasty bump on his head he appeared to be okay. He suddenly smelled smoke and turned back toward the plane, fear climbed into his throat as he realized it was on fire.
Johnny staggered back to the aircraft and climbed back inside. Using the battered remains of Roy’s seat to stand on, he reached upward to the forward compartment. He felt for Betsy’s pulse and found a strong and fairly normal beat.
Bracing himself to handle her weight, he unhooked her belt…panting under the strain as he dragged her back through the passenger area and out the rear door. Johnny lifted her in his arms, gasping in pain and almost dropping her as his ribcage screamed in protest. John was near to collapse, sweat beaded his forehead and his breath was coming in a rasping wheeze but he hitched the woman into his arms and staggered to where Roy was still sitting…placing her next to the younger blonde man.
Wiping the sweat from his brow he made the final trip back to the plane hoping he had enough time before it blew or was completely engulfed in flames. John crawled back inside…the heat was intense as the flames licked from under the engine cowling. John’s breathing was now labored as he once again braced against the back seat and prepared to release Matt’s seat belt. The weight of the larger man almost finished him but he managed to at least lay him safely onto the battered rear seat while he panted for air.
Finally regaining his breath, John pulled the man free from the seat crying out in pain as his cracked ribs seemed to stage a revolt against his body. Tears of pain blurred his vision and weakness washed through him in waves, his head pounded relentlessly and nausea rose into his throat but Johnny swallowed hard and regained control. Frustrated by his own injuries but knowing he was out of time, he continued to try and drag the heavier man toward the door.
Roy suddenly appeared beside him, woozy but on his feet. “Johnny…you need to move and let me in there so I can help." John shifted over so Roy could reach in and grasp Matt by the underarms and pull him from the plane. John’s body had finally had enough… he leaned against the plane’s doorframe trying desperately to breathe. He knew he had to get out but couldn’t seem to make his feet move.
Roy dragged Matt over to where Betsy lay unconscious. It was only after he’d checked Matt’s pulse that he suddenly realized that his partner hadn’t left the plane. “Johnny…,” Roy yelled, as he started to run toward the aircraft. Johnny was leaning heavily against the doorframe and appeared to be trying to climb out. The engine exploded.
Johnny knew he was running out of time. He finally caught his breath and his hands clutched the doorframe. He’d just put his foot on the edge of the frame when the plane exploded. The fuselage bucked upward propelling the paramedic through the air. He landed hard on his chest and stomach…he felt a sharp pain rip through his chest as the air left his body with a whoof…and then he felt nothing as darkness settled around him.
Roy was knocked backward as the plane exploded. He saw Johnny fly into the air and land hard. The older man was back on his feet within moments, staggering toward his friend who lay unmoving in the snow.
“Johnny…,” he cried, his first instinct to roll his friend over…his training told him to check first…training won. His fingers rested against the side of John’s neck searching for a pulse, talking softly to Johnny the whole time. “C’mon partner, you’re gonna be alright…just hang on okay?” He breathed a sigh of relief as he felt a weak beat beneath his fingers. “Johnny, can you hear me…? Open your eyes Junior…I need you wake up now…c’mon Johnny stay with me….,” he urged his young friend as he ran his hands over John’s arms and legs, searching for any sign of broken bones.
Keeping John’s back and neck as straight as possible, he carefully rolled him onto his back. He brushed the loose snow and dirt from his friends face. Johnny’s eyes fluttered open. His pain filled dark eyes settled on Roy…his mouth moved but he couldn’t seem to draw air to force the words out.
“Shhh…,” Roy soothed, “don’t talk until get your breath back okay…?”
Roy saw a shadow fall over John and turned to see Matt standing over them. He was holding his right shoulder but otherwise seemed okay. “How’s Betsy…?” Roy asked concerned.
“She seems fine other than some bruising and an ugly headache.” Matt looked at his now smoldering plane and realized how close they’d come to being killed. “How is he…?”
“His arms and legs are okay but I’d like to get him out of the wind and into some shelter as soon as possible.”
The older man nodded. “Thanks for getting us out of that,” he said tilting his head at the plane.
“I didn’t…,” Roy said looking back at his partner. “Johnny did…he was still in the plane when it exploded.”
“All three of us…?” Matt looked at young man who was still trying to get air into his lungs. “Remind me to thank him later then…” He remembered the rest of the conversation they’d had with the DeSoto’s that night. They’d said John routinely threw himself into dangerous situations, completely unconcerned with his own safety. This was apparently exactly what Roy had been talking about and was a typical John Gage action. Matt could only be grateful for his reckless nature and courage.
Roy nodded. “Can you can find anything I can use to move him?”
“Let me look around…” Matt came back a few minutes later dragging a piece of the fuselage that had been snapped loose. He found his wife sitting next to DeSoto and Gage and talking softly to the younger man while Roy checked him over as best he could without equipment.
Roy felt through Johnny’s hair, his fingers moving around to the back of his head searching for bumps or contusions. He unzipped John’s jacket and unbuttoned the shirt beneath. The black and purple skin underneath caused Roy to suck in his breath in sympathy… “Geez Junior…why didn’t you tell me it was this bad?”
“Did…didn’t w…want to worry you…,” he gasped out. “N…noth…nothing you can do a… any…way.” Just drawing breath to talk was causing John pain. The wound on his forehead was still oozing and blood streaked his face.
Roy unzipped his own jacket and took it off. He pulled his sweater over his head followed by his tee shirt. He replaced his sweater and jacket and began to tear the tee shirt into strips. Roy folded a piece into a thick pad and pressed it over the wound, then wrapped it with another strip to hold it in place.
“Johnny…?” Roy said softly. “This is gonna hurt but I need to check your ribs okay?”
Johnny’s brown eyes were beginning to droop as pain and exhaustion caught up with his body but he managed a slight nod. “Kay…,” he whispered.
Roy’s hands lightly pressed over the left side of John’s torso. John handled it pretty well, wincing slightly when the older man probed some of the more tender spots. Roy finally moved over to John’s right side… his fingers brushed the upper area of Johns ribcage. The young man groaned, biting his lip to keep from crying out but Roy wasn’t fooled, he could tell by John’s eyes how much pain the younger man was in.
“Johnny…I’m gonna need to press just a little…” John clenched his teeth, pleading eyes lifted to meet Roy’s with a desperate shake of the head. “Johnny…I have to know if they’re bruised, cracked or broken.”
“N…no p…lease, hurts… b…broken,” he gasped out.
“Roy…,” Betsy pleaded. “Can’t you just let him rest a little while. He looks so tired and…”
The blonde paramedic smiled and shook his head. “Another one won over by those eyes huh Bets…? I’m sorry, the last thing I want to do is hurt him more than he already has been but I have to know what I’m dealing with here.”
Roy lightly pressed John’s ribs bringing a scream of pain from his young friend as the ribs shifted slightly under his hands. Johnny tried to twist away from his touch but Roy persisted, pressing him down once more… "I’m so sorry Johnny, but I had to know. Take it easy Junior.” John laid back, gasping for air.
“Hey Matt…can you help me get him on this…?” Roy asked, patting the sheet of aluminum the older man had brought back earlier. “Betsy…I need you to hold his head as straight as possible while we roll him on his side and slide this under him okay…?” The two men rolled him onto his left side and slid the piece of wreckage under him. “Careful of the jagged edges…,” he warned as they rolled him onto his back. Johnny’s eyes were squeezed shut, riding out the wave of pain brought on by the motion.
“I’m sorry Junior…I know you’re hurtin. We’ll get you settled and let you rest in just a minute.”
“Roy…,” Matt said. “I’m gonna take a walk back into those trees we crashed through. I left half my plane back there… maybe there’s something we can use. Boy I can’t believe we survived this without worse injuries,” Matt commented rubbing his tender shoulder.
“We wouldn’t have survived it at all without my partner here,” Roy said feeling his own head and the small bump that was swelling there. “Let’s get him under those trees. They’ll at least offer some shelter.” They lifted Johnny on his make shift stretcher. Matt grunted in pain from his damaged shoulder as they carried the injured paramedic under the overhanging branches of a stand of trees.
Joanne DeSoto was pacing anxiously in her mother’s living room. She alternately looked between the phone and the clock. “Joanne sit down…they’re fine…,” her mother finally said in an irritated tone. Joanne looked at her knowing her mother wasn’t Roy’s biggest fan and obviously wasn’t as concerned as her daughter.
“It’s getting late… they should have called by now, “Joanne said worriedly.
“Maybe they’re having a good time and they’ve lost track of how late it is.”
“Roy wouldn’t do that, he’s very responsible. It’s getting dark and they’d be off the slopes by now.”
“Joanne, didn’t you say he took that partner of his with him…”
“That partner’s name is Johnny mom…,” Joanne corrected in annoyance.
“Whatever dear, but didn’t you tell me that he’s a little on the wild side sometimes? Maybe he’s up to something and Roy’s trying to keep him out of trouble.”
“John can be a bit crazy at times but Roy would still call. Johnny would be the first one to tell him to…Something’s wrong…I know it.”
“Then call the lodge and see if they’ve come in.”
Joanne picked up the phone and called the number Roy had given her. She impatiently waited for an answer. “Mt Shasta Lodge…”
“This is Joanne DeSoto…can you connect me with Roy DeSoto’s room please."
“I’m sorry Mrs. DeSoto…we don’t have anyone registered by that name…”
“What…? How about Matt Palmer or John Gage…?”
“No…they had reservations but they never arrived.”
“None of them…? Oh my God…” Joanne hung up. She looked at her mother as tears welled in her eyes…the color had drained from her face… “They never checked in mom…,” She said as she turned back to the phone.
“Who are you calling now…?”
“Captain Stanley…he’ll know who to call to find out what’s happened.”
Hank Stanley hung up the phone and looked at his wife Emily who was watching him curiously.... "That was Joanne DeSoto. Roy and John were flying up to Mt Shasta to go skiing. They never got there.”
“Oh no Hank… What is she gonna do?”
“She’s gonna wait while I make some phone calls,” he told her as he reached for the phone.
Joanne had been sitting by the phone for two hours…her face was pale and her hands shook with fear. She jumped when the phone rang at her elbow and snatched up the receiver. “Hello…,” she said with a trembling voice.
“Joanne…” She could tell by Hank’s voice that whatever was coming wasn’t good. “The airport they were flying into said they received a mayday from Matt Palmer…they lost him off their radar late this morning. Their transmission broke up before they could get a location. They’ve had choppers in the air searching but…”
“It’s getting dark and they’ve had to call them in until morning.”
“Oh God Hank…It’ll be freezing in those mountains tonight…”
“I know Jo… We can only hope they’ve survived the crash and if they did that they managed to find some shelter.”
Hank hung up the phone. He hung his head in dejection…he couldn’t believe this had happened. He couldn’t imagine the station without one or both of these men being there. They were family…he knew he had to call the crew, they’d want to know. He dreaded making this call but he knew he had to. Emily stepped up behind him and gently rubbed his shoulders. He looked up at her with tears in his eyes… she wrapped her arms around him and gently hugged him to her.
Matt came back a short while later… partly successful. He was carrying a battered and dented silver case. “My emergency kit…,” he explained. “Most of it was scattered but I found this…” He opened the case to show Roy the two blankets still firmly strapped inside. There were also some matches and first aid odds and ends.
Roy gave him a grimace… “Well...at least I won’t need to practice the skills I learned with my son at Indian Guides…,” Roy said picking up the matches. Roy pulled the blankets free and glanced over at Johnny who had finally fallen into a fitful sleep. “These will help tonight…,” he added, handing one to Matt.
He took the other to where Johnny was sleeping and spread it over him. “It’s getting dark…,” he told Matt. “It’s gonna get real cold. Are you and Betsy gonna be okay sharing this one…?” Roy asked flicking the blanket.
“We’ll be okay,” Betsy said joining them…"but what about you?”
“I’ll be fine. This jacket’s pretty warm and we should be able to get a decent fire started with these..,” he said tossing the matches in his hand.
Matt glanced to Johnny. “How’s your partner…?”
“Shocky…, He’s in a lot of pain. I think it’s a concussion and a couple of broken ribs. He’s got some pretty severe bruising on the right side. I don’t think he’s bleeding internally though and he’s moving his hands and feet. I’m pretty sure his neck and back are okay but I wish I could be sure.
John stirred restlessly and his eyes fluttered open. His dark eyes traveled around, taking in his surroundings as he struggled to sit up… Roy moved quickly to his side and knelt next to him. Matt and Betsy watched as Roy gently held the younger man down… “Shhh junior, just lay back okay? You need to rest now…”
“Yeah Johnny… thanks to you, everyone’s okay… But you need to sleep now.” John finally quit resisting and lay back. Roy brushed the dark hair back, returning to linger on the younger man’s forehead just under the makeshift bandage. John’s eyes drifted closed.
“How is he…?" Betsy asked anxiously.
“He’s running a fever…,” Roy replied worriedly. “It’s already pretty high.” His gaze returned to the younger man who was now tossing restlessly in his sleep…his long, slender fingers plucking irritably at the blanket.
The sun began to set behind the mountains and the temperature started to drop.
Dixie McCall hung up the phone at the base station. She leaned on the counter, holding her head as if in pain. “Problem…?” Kel asked. He became alarmed as Dixie looked at him. The whiteness of her face and the look in her blue eyes was warning enough that something was very wrong.
“What’s the matter Dix…?”
“That was Joanne DeSoto Kel…, Roy and Johnny were on their way to Mt Shasta this morning.”
“To go skiing…,” Kel added. She nodded but found it difficult to continue. “And…?” Kel prodded beginning to get a bad feeling.
“And apparently their plane went down Kel…”
“They’ve been searching for hours but they had to call it off when it got dark. She thought we’d want to know.”
“I’m glad she called… Is there anything we can do?”
“Not right now. All we can do is wait until morning.”
“Do you know how cold it’s gonna get in those mountains tonight?”
“Yeah Kel…Joanne said it’ll drop into the teens or low twenties.”
“If the crash didn’t kill them…,” Kel said shaking his head in dismay.
“Hypothermia could…,” Dixie finished softly.
Roy snapped awake in the early hours of the morning. He was shivering and huddled deep within his jacket…curled as close to the fire as he could get. His hand rested on Johnny’s shoulder and he realized that that was what had awakened him. John was thrashing in his sleep, the blanket twisted around him. He was sweating and his body shuddered violently.
Roy sat up and rested his hand on John’s forehead. "God junior, you’re burning up…”
Johnny rolled his head from side to side…his mouth moved but the words were incomprehensible. “Náná’tose… Néhvéstâhmêstse Roy… Náháomόhtahe,” (I’m cold… Help me Roy… I’m sick).
“What…?” Roy asked in confusion… “I don’t understand Johnny… What are you trying to say…?” It suddenly occurred to Roy that Johnny was speaking in Indian…, It surprised him as he’d never heard John speak anything but English.
Roy leaned over his young friend... pinning him down by the shoulders to hold him still. Finally the incoherent words began to subside. “Johnny can you hear me…?”
“C…c…cold Roy… help me…, D…don’t leave.”
“I’m not going anywhere Junior…”
A small cough escaped from John’s lips… followed almost immediately by another harsher, deeper one. Johnny wrapped his arms around his ribs protectively… gasping in pain.
Roy slid his hand into the younger mans… “I’m here Johnny… I know you’re hurtin… I wish I could give you something… just hold on partner…”
John was breathing in wheezing gasps. Chills and fever had him shaking uncontrollably in the blanket. Matt, awakened by the activity…suddenly appeared next to Roy. “Can I help?”
“Yeah…help me sit him up would ya…?”
They raised him to a sitting position. Roy un-wrapped the blanket and threw it around his own shoulders, while Matt watched him in concern. "Help me slide him back toward me." They pulled him backwards, close against Roy’s side, almost in his lap and leaned him against the older man’s chest. John’s head fell back to rest on his friends shoulder. Roy wrapped the blanket around both of them. “I wouldn’t do this for just anyone junior…,” Roy whispered close to his ear.
Roy looked at Matt and grinned at the man’s confused look. "My body heat will help keep him warm and sitting upright will help him breathe better.” Roy explained. He didn’t need to say that Johnny would feel calmer being closer to him as the younger man had stopped thrashing already. John lay against Roy still shivering but finally resting.
Matt returned to his wife… she was awake and watching Roy and Johnny across the fire. “Matt… we need to get help for him… that boy isn’t going to last another day out here,” She said softly…
Matt looked back toward the two friends, Roy’s arms were wrapped securely around his partner… the younger man’s head lolled on Roy’s shoulder as fever raged through him. Roy’s hand rose to rest against John’s cheek, mentally gauging the heat radiating from him…103°, 104° easy. He gently pressed John’s head closer… “Just rest Johnny… I’m here. You’re gonna be okay Junior… I promise.”
“R…Roy…, I’m s…so c…cold.”
“I know…,” Roy whispered sympathetically. He pulled the blanket tighter around them.
Matt looked at his wife… “We’ll try and get down the mountain in the morning. I hate leaving them here alone but we can’t carry John down this mountain, he’d never survive in that condition, not to mention Roy’s head injury and my shoulder…,” he shook his head in disgust as he climbed under the blanket with his own very cold companion. “Let’s try Roy’s method of keeping warm…,” he said pulling his wife closer. Betsy drifted off to sleep but Matt laid awake watching Roy and Johnny who had both finally drifted off.
Dixie was unable to sleep. She finally gave up trying and climbed from her bed. Getting dressed… she headed for Rampart. Kelly Brackett and Mike Morton were already there but neither of them were dressed for a day at the Hospital and they were gathering medical supplies.
“What are you two up to…?” Dixie asked.
Mike and I are going up to Mt. Shasta to help the search team. They’re gonna need medical attention if they’re still…,” he didn’t finish.
“Kel… I’d like to come too,” Dixie said.
“Dix, we don’t know what we’re gonna find… Are you sure you wanna do that?”
She nodded... "Kel I’m a trained nurse and despite the fact that it would break my heart to find them…dead,” she finally finished after a hesitation… "the waiting is killing me. I’d rather be doing something to help.”
“Come on then. We’ll stop by your place so you can change.”
“Let me get Betty in here. She can handle things while I’m gone.” She replied.
Roy had been awake off and on all night with Johnny as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Chills and fever had alternately vied for control of the younger man’s body. He’d begun coughing around three in the morning, a harsh and rasping sound deep in his lungs and compounded by the broken ribs…agonizing.
Roy was frustrated… all he could do was hold him through the worst of it. Bathing his face with water warmed over the fire in a bent up piece of aluminum. Coaxing him to drink the warm fluid when he woke...
Roy woke as the sun came up… Johnny was once again caught in the throes of fever and coughing. Roy held him tightly and blotted the sweat from John’s face with a piece of his tee shirt brushing the damp hair from his forehead. “Easy Junior… c’mon partner…try and control your breathing. Take a deep a breath…”
John’s head rolled on Roy’s shoulder as the dark eyes tried to focus on his friends face. “R…really bad… huh…?” He stammered.
“You’re gonna be okay… help will come Johnny… help is coming,” He said reassuringly…he hoped he was right.
Matt and Betsy came over to join them. “Roy… Bets and I are gonna try and get down the mountain…”
“You think that’s a good idea? You’ve both been injured and you have no gear.”
“I’ve done this for twenty years Roy… I can make it but you’re friend here won’t unless we get some help… soon.” Betsy was nodding in agreement.
“We have to try… he saved our lives, we want to try and return the favor,” she said
Roy nodded… “Good luck then.”
As they turned to leave, Matt looked back to Roy… “I envy you Roy,” he said nodding at Johnny. “That’s quite a friendship you have there.”
Roy nodded in agreement… "Yeah… yeah it is.”
Kel, Mike and Dixie arrived at the Ranger station at Mt. Shasta. They were immediately escorted to a search and rescue Helicopter, which took off as soon as they were on board.
Matt and Betsy had been gone for a couple of hours. John was awake but badly disoriented. His temperature was raging and his eyes were glazed but they remained locked on Roy. The ragged coughing fits taking their toll on his chest and lungs. Flecks of blood appeared on his lips during the worst of it. His arms weakly wrapped around his ribcage as if holding everything in place.
Roy had pressed his ear to Johnny’s chest to listen to his lungs and he was certain he’d heard the crackling sound of rales…that combined with his other symptoms left little doubt…Roy was certain his partner had pneumonia.
“Roy…,” Johnny gasped. He coughed harshly and his head rolled listlessly before coming back around to look blearily at Roy.
“‘M gonna die…?” Chills began to sweep through him once more.
“No you’re not… You’re gonna be okay… We’ll get you outta here somehow… just hang on Johnny okay?”
Roy pulled his partner close against him, praying for the first time in a long time…, “please God… let someone find us soon…,” he whispered softly.
The chopper had been in the air for several hours… returning to base for refueling and going back out. The three medical personnel on board felt like their eyes were filled with sand from scanning the terrain below.
“What if we don’t find them Kel…? Worse, what if we do and they’re…?”
“Don’t Dix…we’re gonna find them…alive,” Kel said.
“Kel look…,” Mike said pointing excitedly. “There…”
Two people were jumping up and down, waving frantically at the helicopter. The pilot circled around trying to find a spot clear enough to set down. The chopper finally settled…blowing snow and loose dirt like confetti.
The man and woman were running toward them. Kel and Mike jumped out and ran to meet them. They were both talking at the same time.
“Hurt…,” Matt gasped.
“Sick…,” Betsy finished.
“Are you Matt Palmer…?” Kel asked.
“Yes… yes, we’re the Palmers…we have to hurry.”
"John Gage and Roy DeSoto…were they with you?” Kel asked.
“Are they alright?” Dixie pressed.
“Yes they were with us.”
“Were…?” Dixie asked fearfully.
“Are…,” Betsy corrected reassuringly. “But John’s sick and badly injured. Roy stayed with him… We have to get help soon or John’s not gonna make it.”
Dixie felt her stomach roll at her words… from the look of the other two…they felt the same way.
“Let’s move then… we’ll check you out on the chopper.” Kel said. They loaded everyone back on board and Matt began to direct the pilot which way to head while Mike and Dixie checked out Betsy. Matt finally turned and sat down with Kel.
“It’s just my shoulder Doctor…,” Matt explained as Kel began to probe the afflicted area.
“Can you tell us about Johnny and Roy?” Kel asked.
“Friends of yours…?”
“Yeah, good friends… They work out of our hospital.”
“You’d be Kelly Brackett then?”
“I would… and this is Dixie McCall and Mike Morton,” Kel said indicating the others.
“Roy speaks highly of all of you… but anyway, Roy got a good whack on the head but other than a nasty headache and being cold and hungry, he’s fine.” Dixie breathed a sigh of relief.
“And Johnny…?” she asked.
“He’s hurt bad Miss…,” Matt told her.
“And he’s real sick…,” Betsy added.
“Sick…?” Kel asked.
“Roy suspected pneumonia…,” Matt said.
“Oh no…Kel…?” Dixie said quietly.
“He saved our lives… he got us all out but he was still in the plane when it exploded. Roy said it threw him about fifteen feet. He landed hard…really hard. Roy said he had some broken ribs and a head wound and then he got sick…,” Matt explained.
“He was running a really high fever when we left,” Betsy added.
Kel, Dixie and Mike were exchanging worried looks throughout the recitation. “Mike… we’re gonna need to move fast when we get there. Let’s get ready.”
John was once again sleeping fitfully. Roy eased him down and laid the blanket over him while he picked through some branches to add to the fire. Motion off in the trees caught his eye…a mountain lion on the hunt. The animal prowled around the burnt out aircraft…it’s head turned toward them as Johnny began to cough. Johnny twisted as pain racked his body. The motion caused the big cat to move toward them, sensing prey.
Roy’s right hand moved to rest on Johnny’s mouth to quiet the moan of pain…his left moving towards the pile of branches, closing over a fairly good sized piece. “Shhh Johnny…it’s okay…I need you to try and be quiet now okay…? I’m still here.” Roy whispered, lightly resting his hand at the top of John’s dark head.
The older man climbed slowly to his feet… moving to put himself between his friend and the animal.
John’s eyes opened. “Roy…?” He whispered.
“Not now junior…”
“Shhh…Johnny, just relax okay.”
The younger man could only see his partners back…confused by the tone of the other man’s voice, he struggled to sit up, bringing a cry of pain to his lips.
The big cat flinched away briefly but quickly returned and moved toward them. “Could this get any worse?” Roy muttered to himself as he hefted the branch in his hand. “Johnny…please, please lay still. I’ll be back over there in a minute okay? Lay back.”
John finally spotted the lion and even through fever and pain recognized the danger they were in. He pushed himself to his knees. His right arm held protectively over his ribs. He staggered to his feet and moved to Roy’s side.
Roy glanced at his friend…shocked to see him on his feet at all. “You need to lie down Johnny, right now.”
John gasped for air but managed an adamant “No…, stay with you…”
“You stubborn…,” Roy muttered as he bent over and gathered a handful of rocks.
The lion looked between the two men…moving steadily closer. A low growl sounded. Roy reared back and hurled a stone, scoring a direct hit. The cat leaped back. Roy caught him with another one. The cat paced back and forth several times watching them before it finally turned and ambled back into the woods.
John groaned… letting out a rasping cough and started to fall. Roy dropped the branch and grabbed his young partner… “Okay, let’s get you back down,” he said leading him back to the trees and lowering him carefully to rest against the tree. He pulled the blanket around him. “Don’t do that again John… you shift those ribs you could puncture a lung.” He eased the sting of the rebuke with a light brush of his hand, sweeping the sweat soaked hair back from John’s forehead. Taking the opportunity to check John’s temperature as well as the head wound.
John’s brown eyes met his… "D…d…didn’t w…wanna be…,” he stopped to pant for air before he continued… “Some cat’s breakfast…”
“Can’t blame you for that,” Roy said with a smile.
“T…they gonna f…find us in t…time?” He stuttered.
“Matt and Betsy have gone for help Johnny. They’ll find us in time.” Roy realized his friend was once again in the grip of chills. “You need to sleep Johnny…,” he said sliding down beside his partner, he pulled him against him and re wrapped the blanket. John’s head rolled to Roy’s shoulder and the shaking slowly subsided as he fell into a fitful sleep. Exhaustion from cold and a long sleepless night caught up with Roy and within minutes he’d fallen asleep as well.
Neither of them heard the chopper come over the top of the trees. It landed in the clearing Matt had been aiming for and had missed. The first Roy knew of their presence was when John’s weight suddenly disappeared from his chest. He snapped awake and sat up quickly. “Johnny…,” Mike Morton’s face filled his vision. “Mike…?”
“Easy Roy… let me take a look at you.”
“I’m fine… just a bump… It’s John who’s hurt.” He looked around Mike to where Kelly Brackett was already working on Johnny. Dixie McCall had him resting against her as she placed an O2 mask over his face. Kel had unzipped the jacket and followed with his shirt. His hands began to run over John’s body.
The younger man tolerated the probing until he reached the upper right ribcage. John gasped in pain and weakly pushed his hands away. His eyes cracked open, blinking in confusion as he saw Brackett. His head turned slightly to look at Roy but was surprised to find that it was Dixie he was leaning against.
He struggled to sit up pushing the mask from his face in panic… "Roy…?”
“He’s right over there Johnny….just relax,” Kel said pushing him back down so Dixie could replace the mask over his face. “You’ve got to stay still so I can check your ribs.” His hands returned once again to John’s upper torso but they were immediately batted away. John’s arms returned to cover his ribcage protectively.
“No…hurs…,” he slurred.
“John Gage, quit that…,” Dixie said sternly.
Kel reached out to try and hold him but Johnny was too far out of it to understand what they were trying to do…he only knew he hurt…He twisted away from the hands pinning him to the ground. Seeing the struggle, Mike Morton finally let Roy go to his friend knowing he would be the only one Gage might listen to.
Roy dropped to one knee next to his partner… he reached out to hold his head still as he spoke softly… "Johnny…? John…look at me… It’s Roy… John Stop…!” His voice finally seemed to penetrate his foggy brain. The dark eyes focused on his friend.
“Roy…,” he rasped.
“Make em s…stop,” he gasped.
“Okay Junior… no one’s gonna touch you okay?" A weak nod was the only response. A wave of chills swept through the younger man. “Lay back Johnny...,” Roy looked to Brackett… “He isn’t gonna let you touch him but I already checked... his sixth and seventh rib are definitely fractured, there may be a couple of cracked ones. There’s just so much bruising, it’s hard to tell.”
Kel nodded… "alright, let’s get him on the helicopter, I’ll sedate him then and get a better look. Dixie, start an IV… D5WTKO. Mike how’s our other friend here…?” Brackett asked looking at Roy.
“Minor head injury…”
“That’s a relief at least…,” he said as the chopper crew arrived with the Stokes. They lifted Johnny carefully into the basket. Dixie tucked the IV bag under his shoulder before wrapping him securely with a blanket.
They lifted the Stokes and headed for the helicopter. Kel turned to look at Roy as they walked… "How’d he get hurt so bad while the rest of you…,” Kel gestured to the bandage Mike had placed on the younger man’s forehead…, “are fairly minor?”
“John’s seat broke loose, he was thrown all over the plane and then he dragged the three of us out of the wreckage. I helped him get Matt out but I didn’t realize he hadn’t come out behind me…,” Roy said looking guilty. “He was trying to get out when it exploded. It threw him about fifteen feet.”
This part Kel had heard before. They arrived at the chopper where Matt and Betsy stood waiting with Blankets wrapped tightly around their bodies. Matt’s arm was in a sling while Betsy sported a C collar and a match to Roy’s bandage.
“I told you we’d make it Roy…,” Matt said holding out his hand to the younger man.
“Thanks…both of you.”
“How are you holding out…?”
“Cold…hungry and glad to be getting out of here…”
Roy shook his head… "He’s in pretty bad shape.”
The rescue team secured the Stokes on board before letting the others climb aboard. Roy sat next to him as Brackett knelt on the other side to check the head wound he’d sustained in the explosion…cutting away the makeshift bandage Roy had put there.
John’s head rolled slightly to the side…the dark eyes seeking out his partner. Roy smiled and rested his hand on the younger man’s shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
The warmth inside the Chopper sent Johnny into a new round of chills…his teeth chattering almost uncontrollably. Dixie added another blanket to the shivering form.
Roy reveled at the first touch of warmth for the last two days…though his own half frozen body shivered as well.
John’s body finally warmed enough to relax…his eyes drifted closed. Roy leaned back against the seat and knowing the others would keep watch on his friend…finally dozed off.
Roy woke as the chopper began to descend. Two ambulances backed in as they began to unload the victims. Matt and Betsy climbed out and the attendants got them settled inside, Mike Morton Joined them.
Dixie realized Johnny was once again awake…she reached out to brush the sable hair away from her friends face, speaking in soothing tones…as the brown eyes struggled to stay open. His unfocused gaze wandering from face to face...John’s mouth hardly moved but the anxious look and the barely audible word were clear to his best friend…, “Roy…”
“I’m here Johnny,” Roy said resting his hand on his friends shoulder. The younger man’s head twisted around slightly, relaxing once again when he saw his partner. They slid Johnny out of the helicopter and loaded him quickly into the ambulance. Roy, Kel and Dixie climbed in behind him.
Roy followed the gurney into the Emergency Room at Shasta Regional Medical Center. He helped them lift Johnny out of the Stokes and onto the exam table. He glanced up at Roy… “You need to call your wife and your Captain… they’re both very worried about you…both of you.”
“I’ll take care of Johnny…I promise you.” Roy nodded hesitantly but left to make those phone calls. Kel grinned knowing the other man wouldn’t be gone for very long.
Joanne paced the Kitchen of her mother’s house. It seemed that’s all she’d done for the last thirty four hours. Her mom watched her with sympathetic eyes. Roy wasn’t her favorite person and neither was his partner…Arlene had met the younger man the first time at Thanksgiving the first year of their partnership. She’s made an ‘innocent’ comment about John’s age and Roy had gotten irritated and had come very close to asking her to leave…even risking his wife’s wrath in defending his partner and even Joanne had bristled at the criticism. To top it off her own grandchildren seemed to prefer the young man’s company to hers but she’d never wish any harm to come to either of them.
Joanne chewed a well manicured nail anxiously, her eyes flicked between the clock and the phone. “Jo… you need to sit down… pacing the floor isn’t going to help…”
“I can’t help it mom…I…” The phone began to ring, cutting off Joanne’s explanation. She jumped nervously before snatching the phone off the hook… "Hello… ROY…Oh God…honey are you okay?” She asked as she began to weep.
Her mother listened to the one sided phone conversation with baited breath. Roy at least was alright but as the conversation progressed it was obvious the partner was not.
“I’m fine Jo… please don’t cry…it’s just a bump on the head. Matt strained his shoulder and Betsy has a minor concussion and a neck strain…”
“Johnny…?” She whispered worriedly.
“He’s hurt pretty bad. He got us all out but… he got caught when the plane exploded Jo…” She could hear the worry in his voice.
“He’s gonna be alright isn’t he…?”
“I don’t know… I think he’s got pneumonia Jo… and he’s broken a couple of ribs and he’s got a really bad concussion.”
“But he’s gonna be okay right…?” She insisted, trying to encourage her husband.
“I hope so…,” he answered honestly.
“He will be… you know Johnny, he never quits Honey… he’ll bounce back, he always does.”
“I know… Look since you’re at your Mom’s…I’m just gonna stay here until Johnny’s ready to come home.”
“Okay…, Dad will be home tomorrow and I’ll head back then. Roy when he’s ready to come home, you tell him he’s coming to our house so we can take care of him.”
She couldn’t see the smile but she could hear it in his voice when he answered…"I’ll let him know.”
Roy hung up and immediately called Cap… “Roy…It’s good to hear your voice pal… we’ve been really worried.”
“I’m okay Cap but Johnny’s hurt pretty bad. He broke a couple of ribs and he’s got a pretty bad knock on the head and most likely pneumonia…”
“He’ll be okay Roy…you know how tough John is…”
“Yeah Cap…I know.”
“Look, I’m gonna stay with Johnny until I know what’s goin on… maybe until they bring him home…I’ll let you know when I hear from Brackett.”
“I’ll call the guy’s, they’ll be relieved to know your both alive and you’re both gonna be okay…right?”
“Tell John we’re thinkin of him pal…”
“I will Cap…,” Roy agreed as he hung up.
Kel came out of the exam room just as Roy was returning. This wasn’t Rampart but the staff here had extended every courtesy to visiting Medical team from LA. “How’s he doin Doc?” Roy asked worriedly.
“We finally got a look at those ribs… The X-ray’s show he actually broke three and cracked one. He’s got a lot of strained muscles and bruises. He’s got a moderate concussion and he was running a 103° temperature when we brought him in and as you diagnosed…,” Kel said with a grin, “He’s got pneumonia. We’ve already got him started on antibiotics and given him something to bring the fever down.”
“But he’s gonna be okay, right?”
“I think so…once we get his breathing stabilized I’ll be more comfortable. We’ve given him a very mild sedative… it’s the only way he’d let us near those ribs… but he’s still pretty restless. I think he’d relax if you went in there. I asked them to put him in a double room so that you could stay with him. They’ll be moving him soon.”
Roy nodded with a grin… "good idea Doc, I wasn’t plannin on leavin him.”
They entered the room…Dixie and Mike Morton were already there as well as a Doctor from the ER of Mount Shasta Hospital. “Roy…this is Doctor Girotti.” Roy shook hands with the older man before moving past him to his partner’s side.
Even sedated and finally warm, Johnny didn’t appear to be resting easy. There was a deep rasping wheeze with each breath intermittently followed by a grating cough. Roy looked worriedly at the Doctor’s. “Is he really gonna be okay?" He asked as Johnny tossed his head restlessly. Roy laid his hand on his friends shoulder reassuringly. “I’m here junior…,” he said softly. John settled down almost immediately, his breathing still labored but the restlessness had subsided.
“Told ya…,” Dixie said smugly.
Kel shot her a disgusted look… “Nobody like’s an ‘I told you so... Dix,” he said in annoyance.
Roy looked between them, wondering what was up. “I told him you were the best sedative we could give Johnny…,” she explained.
“Oh… was that supposed to be a compliment…?” Roy asked with a grin.
“It worked…,” She said smiling back at him.
“Any idea how soon we can take him home?”
“We’ll airlift him back to Rampart tomorrow morning if he’s stable.”
There was a light tap at the door…Matt and Betsy entered the room. “Mind if we come in…?”
“No, of course not… Johnny’s asleep though.”
“We just wanted to let you know our son’s on his way to pick us up so we’ll be heading home very soon.”
“That’s great… I know he was probably relieved to hear from you.”
“He was…did you reach Joanne?”
“Yeah… she’ll be home tomorrow and hopefully Johnny will be feeling better and we can work on getting him home too.”
“Did you reach his family…?”
“Um…Johnny doesn’t really have a family… just an Aunt in Santa Barbara who’s usually traveling and hard to reach.”
“Of course Johnny has a family…,” Dixie corrected, smiling at Roy. The older man looked at her in surprise for a moment before understanding dawned. “He has Roy and Jo…,” she explained to the others.
Roy grinned back… “Yeah… yeah he does and I guess we are his family,” He added.
Matt shook hands with Roy and turned back to say thanks to the Doctors as Betsy moved to John’s bedside. She stood looking at him for a long moment and finally leaned down to kiss his cheek.
“Uh oh…there goes another one,” Dixie mumbled to Kel with a grin. Kel snorted with laughter.
Betsy turned to Roy… "Do you remember when you and Jo told us about your friend here?”
“You said he was impulsive and sometimes too reckless for his own good...that he risks his life too often.”
“I was right…,” He said looking at his partners sleeping form.
“You were but…it also makes him the kind of person who risks his life for two total strangers. It’s why we’re all standing here today.”
Roy nodded… "I know…”
“So let me ask you something?”
“You obviously admire your partner’s capabilities…,”
“He’s one of the best…”
At Roy’s comment she continued. “Be honest now…Would you respect him as much if he put his own personal safety ahead of others?” He looked at her thoughtfully.
Matt picked up on her direction… "Roy…you may constantly be pulling your friend out of some situation or other or even dragging him into the hospital, but when you do… instead of getting angry, remember how many lives he may have saved and how many might have been lost while he stopped to consider himself first…I know of three,” he added with a shrug.
“I worry about him… I just don’t wanna…you know lose him…”
“I can understand that…I saw the relationship between you…" The younger man flushed slightly at having his big brother feelings for John discussed so openly.
“But don’t kid yourself Roy…because your just like him,” Betsy said… "or he wouldn’t respect you the way he does. Don’t ever forget that…you may think your different but you’re not really…you just get there two different ways but when he’s running in…you’re right behind him.”
“Or he’s right behind you…?” Matt added questioningly.
Dixie and Kel cocked an eyebrow in amused agreement as they nodded in unison.
Betsy gave Roy a kiss on the cheek… “Give us a call when he’s better…I’d like to thank him myself for risking his life for me and my husband.” Roy nodded. “Take care of him.”
“I always do.”
They turned and left. Brackett gave Roy a slap on the back… “Get some sleep…we’ll try and get you back to LA in the morning.
Johnny tossed restlessly in his sleep, gasping as his ribs protested the movement…followed by a harsh coughing. Roy woke instantly and moved quickly to his partner’s side. He felt John’s forehead, realizing his temperature had spiked…Roy hit the nurse call and then reached for a small towel and began bathing the sweat from his partner’s face as he spoke softly. “I’m here Johnny… you’re at the hospital and you’re gonna be fine. Just rest okay…?” The brown eyes drifted closed as the reassuring voice penetrated his delirium and the cool clothe trailed across his face.
Kel arrived with Mike and Dixie first thing in the morning to find Roy asleep in the chair next to Johnny’s bed. One handed rested lightly on the younger man’s arm and both of them were sleeping peacefully.
“Roy…,” Kel said softly, shaking the younger man’s shoulder. Blue eyes fluttered open to look blearily up at Kel…before turning towards his friend. “You okay?”
“He had a bad night,” Roy said tiredly…”but he finally went to sleep a couple of hours ago.”
Kel and Dixie moved over to Johnny’s side and began to check him over. His vital signs were stable and his temperature had returned to 102° which though still high was better than it was during the night.
“I think we’ll risk moving him this morning. I’ll feel better when he’s back at Rampart.” Dixie and Roy nodded their agreement.
Mike Morton pushed the door open… “Kel…they said if we want to air lift him to LA they can have a chopper ready in an hour.” Kel nodded…"Let’s get him ready then…”
Johnny slept through the transfer from hospital to ambulance and to the helicopter. He barely stirred as they moved him into a bed at Rampart.
“Roy, I want you to go home and get some rest…,” Brackett directed.
“I will…I just want to stay with him a few minutes…”
“Alright, for a few minutes, but then you go home...Johnny isn’t going to do anything but sleep for the next eight or nine hours and that’s what you need to be doing.”
“Okay Doc…,” Roy assured him as the older man left.
Several hours later Kel walked into John’s room to find Roy asleep in the chair next to his young friend. His head rested on his folded arms…one hand resting on Johnny’s shoulder. Kel shook his head and gave Roy a gentle shake…
Bleary blue eyes opened to look up into amused brown. “I’ll ask Dixie to drive you home Roy…you need to get some sleep. I don’t want to see you back here until tomorrow morning…are we clear?”
Roy yawned and rubbed his aching back knowing Brackett would enforce the order if he needed to, besides he needed to see his wife and kids…Johnny was sleeping quietly and probably wouldn’t notice him missing for a few hours at least. Not that Johnny needed a babysitter… Roy grinned. Not that he’d admit to anyway.
Johnny woke the next morning, dark eyes tracked around the room… he recognized his surroundings immediately, after all he’d been here enough to recognize a room at Rampart.
The door opened a moment later and Dixie came in. “Well good morning kiddo…”
The crooked John Gage smile appeared briefly before fading tiredly away again. “Morning Dix…,” he whispered raggedly. They apparently had gotten his breathing stabilized and while the wheeze and cough were still present the deep rasp was gone.
Dixie came over to check the IV and the oxygen flow to the nasal cannula…satisfied, she turned her attention to Johnny. She tucked the thermometer under his tongue as she took his pulse, continuing to hold his hand when she was done. She checked his temperature and smiled at the reading.
“You’re feeling better I see…,” she said smoothing the dark hair off his forehead. “Your temperature’s down to 101°.”
“Better…,” he whispered tiredly. “Chest hurts,” he said as Roy pushed the door open to let Joanne enter the room ahead of him.
“Mornin Junior…,” he greeted. Joanne smiled at Dixie as she moved to John’s bedside, leaning down to kiss his cheek.
“Look at you… you’re a mess.”
“Thanks…,” he replied with a husky voice.
“You know what I mean…You look awful. Roy didn’t do it justice.” She shot her husband an annoyed look but Johnny gave him a small half smile. “We want you to come and stay with us when they release you…,” she told him. “Until you can be on your own…”
“Thanks…,” he murmured.
The door opened again to admit the Crew of station 51. “Roy… John, how you feelin guys…?”
“Well, we’re not gonna stay long…we have to get back…we…uh… just had to bring Chet in.” Cap explained.
Roy and Johnny exchanged a look before turning to look curiously at their friends. “What happened?” Roy asked.
“Seems he got a little over zealous tryin to carry someone down the stairs…” At their blank look he continued. “Seems he twisted his ankle…”
Roy threw a grin at his partner who was trying hard not to laugh for fear it would bring on another fit of coughing but the twinkle in his eye laughed for him…
The two friends said it together…"Accident Prone...”
The characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Limited. Thanks for allowing us to borrow the boys from time to time. Posted to site 09/09/09
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The Characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Productions. No copyright infringement is intended or monetary gain made. I merely like to toy with them and return them to their proper owner in good working order.
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