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“I wish you wouldn’t do that till it’s parked, Johnny,” Roy said, sounding like a worried father. Johnny just rolled his eyes and laughed. Walking into the rec room, Roy poured himself some coffee and Johnny turned on the television. Roy turned around, hearing a familiar theme song and the laughter of his partner.
“Hey, Roy, did you ever see this show?”
“Bonanza, sure… I grew up watching it.”
“So did I. I used to race through my homework every Monday night just so I could watch it… of course, I’d wind up doing it all again once it was over,” he laughed. “You know, when I was little, I was wanted to be a cowboy just like them.”
Roy laughed, remembering he wanted to be the same thing. “And look at us, firefighters. Looks like those dreams sure didn’t work out.”
“Thank goodness, because I’ll take fire to bullets any day!” John said with a smile. Roy sat down at the table to read the newspaper. After a few moments, he wondered why Johnny hadn’t turned the set off.
“You’re actually gonna watch it?”
“Why not? There’s nothing else on, besides, it brings back memories.”
That evening, the station didn’t get any runs, so the guys were rewarded with a nice sleep; all except for Johnny.
There were no curtains at the station. John sat up abruptly, set on waking Roy, but stopped short upon seeing that he was not at station 51. A look of both fear and confusion crossed his features before he got up and found he was alone in this strange room. He threw the covers off and reached for his turnouts and boots, aggravated when he found they weren’t there either. He let out a groan of frustration before running out the door to find his partner.
“Roy?” he called softly in the hallway. “Roy?” this time it came as a yell. He ran down the stairs to a desk with a man behind it, who seemed like he could answer Johnny’s questions. “Sir?” he called, wondering if he sounded as frightened as he felt.
“Yes, Mr. Gage, good morning!” the old, bald clerk nodded.
John’s eyed widened in further fright. “How do you know my name?”
The man chuckled in amusement. “Mr. Gage, of course I know you. You and your friend have only been staying here for three days.”
“We have?” he asked in utter confusion, causing the clerk to laugh once again.
“Is there something you need, Mr. Gage? Something I can help you with?”
“Uh… yes… I’m looking for my part—uh, friend. Roy De—”
The clerk cut him off. “I know, Mr. Gage, your friend Roy DeSoto. He’s in room twenty-four, right next to yours.”
“Thank you,” he went back up the stairs, wondering why he hadn’t thought to look in that room before. Roy was never far away when he needed him. He barged into the room, dashing to the sleeping form in the bed, shaking him awake. “Roy. Come on, Roy, wake up!”
Roy moaned in annoyance. “What?” he asked obviously annoyed at being woken up so forcefully.
“Roy, where in the world are we?"
John couldn’t tell if the reaction on Roy’s face was what he himself felt, or wonder of why John had asked him that.
“What do you mean ‘Where in the world are we’? We’re at the—” he stopped short, seeing what his young partner was talking about. “Johnny, where are we?”
John sighed, obviously distressed that his partner didn’t know the answer. “I was hoping you would tell me.”
“Okay, okay let’s stay calm,” before Roy could speak any farther, they heard a woman’s voice outside screaming for help. Their inner-paramedic and adrenaline rush leaped into action faster than they did. The pair raced out the door and down the stairs, not stopping until they were out in front of the hotel. After scanning the area in front of them, their eyes found what they were looking for. They dashed across the street to the saloon where one of the dance hall girls was kneeling next to an injured man.
“What happened?” they asked in unison, kneeling next to the couple.
The woman managed to explain through her tears that her husband had been badly beaten in a bar fight. Roy and John quickly began using their medical training; feeling around the man’s extremities, looking for head injuries, checking his eyes, and making sure his spine and neck weren’t hurt. Before they could look him over any farther, two men… two big men… came out of the bar and stood directly between Roy and the injured man. Roy looked up at them, knowing where this was headed.
“Ain’t you got nothin’ else to do, sonny?” the giant said.
“Uh… we… I… we were just helping him.”
“Well, you see here, sonny, this ole cowboy lost to us in a poker game, and he ain’t got the money to pay up, so we figured on showing him not to mess with big fellers like us, so you might just wanna leave him alone before we show you a thing or two.”
“I can’t do that,” Roy replied flatly.
The grin erased from the big man’s face. “You what?”
Roy stood up and looked at the man right in the eye. “I said I can’t do that.”
“Why you little—” the other big guy said as he lifted Roy off the ground by his shirt collar. From behind, Johnny jumped up, trying to make the man let go of his nearly choking partner. The big man pushed Johnny off his arm, slamming him into the post.
On the other side of the street, Hoss Cartwright was strolling down the sidewalk with his older brother Adam, and saw the commotion out of the corner of his eyes. “Hey Adam, those little fellers need help!” he said before dashing off. Adam was right on his heels.
Just as Roy was punched and Johnny was once again thrown to the ground, Hoss came up behind them and pulled the big man off of the paramedics. After his vision cleared, John looked up from the ground to see the two Cartwright brothers pounding on the big men. His eyes widened in shock as he watched Adam and Hoss help them. He tapped Roy on the shoulder, who turned to look just as shocked as Johnny. After the fight was over, Hoss walked over and helped Johnny and Roy get up.
“You fellers sure had yourself some trouble there. What’d ya do?”
“Huh?” Johnny asked.
“What’d ya do? To make ‘em mad.”
“Oh, uh… we didn’t do anything.”
“We were just trying to help the guy they beat up,” Roy said.
“Looks like they gotcha too,” Adam chimed in after picking up and dusting off his hat.
“Say, where are you fellers from? We ain’t seen ya around here before. Oh, by the way, I’m Hoss Cartwright, and this here’s my brother Adam,” Hoss introduced, courteously extending his hand to the younger of the two men.
“I’m Johnny Gage,” he replied, shaking Hoss’ big hand.
“And I’m Roy DeSoto. We’re from Los Angeles in California.”
“California, huh?” Adam asked. “That’s a long way from Virginia City.”
“Virginia City?” John asked, looking slightly confused.
“Well sure!” Hoss said with a laugh. “This here’s Virginia City!” he paused for a moment before speaking again. “Hey, where you fellers stayin’?”
“Well, we were staying at the hotel, but I’m afraid we don’t have any money left,” Roy said, wondering where he and his partner would stay.
“Well shoot, we got a big ranch just outside of town. The Ponderosa… a hundred acres of the most beautiful land you ever laid eyes on!”
“You’re welcome to stay there,” Adam invited. Roy looked at his young partner, wondering what to say. Seeing the look in his eyes, he knew what to tell them.
“We’d like that. Thanks, Mr. Cartwright,” he replied, drawing a grin from Johnny.
Adam held up his hand. “It’s Adam, Mr. Cartwright is my father.”
“And you can call me Hoss,” putting a hand to his chin, he thought for a moment. “We better get you fellers some new duds tomorrow! You can’t walk around looking like that.”
Johnny looked at Roy, wondering what was wrong with their paramedic uniforms.
Going back to the hotel to retrieve, or more likely find out what they had to retrieve, John and Roy were quite surprised to see Dr. Kelly Brackett, Dr. Joe Early, and Nurse Dixie McCall sitting in the middle of the hotel lobby.
“John! Roy!” Dixie called as she spotted her two favorite paramedics. Roy waved them over while John held a surprised look on his face. “What are you two doing here?” she asked as the trio walked over.
“We were gonna ask you guys the same thing,” Roy replied.
“We don’t know what we’re doing here,” John whispered, not wanting anyone nearby to hear.
Dr. Early chuckled, “Neither do we,” he said putting his hand next to his mouth, winking at the paramedic.
Before leaving for the Ponderosa, Roy and John had asked Hoss and Adam if their friends could come along as well. Of course, they said yes. Two hours later, they arrived at the ranch. Ben and Little Joe came out of the house, wondering who had arrived with Adam and Hoss.
“Howdy, Pa!” Hoss said getting off his horse.
“Hi, Hoss,” he greeted. “Who are your friends?”
“Pa,” Adam said coming up from behind the horses. “This is John Gage and Roy DeSoto we helped them out of a jam in town. Their friends here are Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early, and Dixie McCall, their nurse,” he beckoned toward Ben and Joe and turned to talk to their guests. “This is my father, Ben Cartwright, and our little brother, Joe.” Everyone exchanged their greetings and went inside for dinner. After some talk, Ben turned to the doctors.
“Adam says you two are doctors, where from?”
“California, Mr. Cartwright,” Dr. Brackett replied.
“We work together at, uh… our clinic,” Early chimed in. “Dixie’s our nurse.”
“And you two,” Ben said to John and Roy. “What do you do?”
John looked at Roy with a skeptical eye, knowing they couldn’t very well introduce themselves as paramedics. Roy got an idea and spoke up. “We work under Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early helping them with patients a lot.” John breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the Cartwrights had bought their story.
A couple of hours later, everyone turned in for the night. Each guest had their own room, while the Cartwrights slept in their own. The late hours of the evening didn’t bring any rest for the guests of the Ponderosa. Near midnight, John laid in his bed. He rolled over for the umpteenth time before resolving to get up. Putting on the robe that lay at the foot of the bed, he quietly tip-toed into the hallway. Making his way down the stairs, he stopped when he saw Roy, Dixie, and the Doctors sitting in the living room.
“Glad I’m not the only one who couldn’t sleep,” he smiled. He walked down the stairs and sat down on the couch with his friends. “Can I ask a stupid question?”
“Be my guest,” Roy smirked.
“What the heck are we doing here?”
Dixie gave a relieved sigh. “I am so glad I’m not the only one who was thinking that.”
“I think that goes for all of us,” Dr. Brackett added.
John spoke up again. “Now that we’re all on the same page, does anyone have the answer?”
“I wish I did, Junior,” Roy replied once again, “but I can’t remember a thing before this morning.”
“Me neither,” the younger man said as he got up and began to pace. “I mean, we all know who and what we are… but…” Johnny stopped, slightly frightened at not remembering anything.
“Sounds like an abnormal case of amnesia if you ask me,” Dr. Early joked, drawing a tired giggle from all.
The next morning, Roy and Johnny were up at the crack of dawn. Feeling their morning appetite begin to build, they went downstairs, and saw Hoss sitting on the table drinking what looked like coffee or tea.
“Mornin’ fellars!” he greeted. “Fresh coffee in the kitchen if you want some.”
“Thanks,” Roy said as he and his partner went to the kitchen. No sooner had the two men entered the kitchen did Hoss hear the sound of glass breaking and Hop Sing yelling in Chinese and English at the same time. Johnny and Roy came pushing each other out of the kitchen with Hop Sing behind them wielding a pan.
“Thieves… Thieves! You stay out of Hop Sing kitchen! You want coffee, you ask! No help yourselves!” and with that, he left. Both men looked at each other skeptically before Hoss laughed.
“Hey big guy,” he whispered. “Wow, you sure are a beauty! I wonder what your name is.”
“Sport,” he heard a voice from behind him. He jumped and whirled around to see Adam leaning on the doorway with a shifty smile on his face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he apologized with a nonchalant chuckle.
“Oh… that’s ok. I probably shouldn’t be in here anyway, huh?”
“No, it’s perfectly fine,” he walked up to John. “You like horses, huh?”
“Love ‘em! This one’s an Arabian, isn’t he?”
Adam looked impressed. “Yeah, he is.”
Johnny smiled, priding himself that he still knew his horse breeds. “You… you wanna ride?”
Adam asked. John’s eyes lit up, he hadn’t ridden in ages! “I’d love to!”
“Well, then come on!” Adam said as he lifted the saddle from the rack, but John stopped him.
“Uh… I don’t use saddles.”
“Bareback?” he asked with surprise. “Okay, he’s all yours.” He let the younger man lead the horse out to the corral, still surprised that Gage wanted to ride bareback. Once in the corral, Johnny quickly jumped on the back of Sport and worked him into a slow canter, using the horse’s mane as reins, steering them in the desired directions. After a few moments, he worked up to to a full gallop. Within minutes, both the horse and rider were in perfect synchronicity. A few moments more of riding, and John eased Sport into a canter, a slow walk, and then pulled him to a stop, jumping off in front of Adam with a pleased smile on his face.
“Well, Johnny, I am very impressed! Where did you learn to ride like that?” Adam asked, truly surprised at the man’s riding talents.
“Uh…” John hesitated. “I grew up on a ranch in South Dakota.”
“Oh, your folks were ranchers, huh?” Adam asked as he began to pet his horse.
“Not exactly… we lived on the reservations. I’m a half breed,” he whispered, expecting Adam to throw some insult at him as nearly everyone had upon learning of Gage’s Indian heritage.
Seeing the forlorn look in John’s eyes Adam asked, “What tribe?” with true interest.
The younger man’s eyes lit up. “You’re not…” he began, but Adam cut him off.
“No, now what tribe are you from?”
John smiled. “Cherokee.”
“I always liked the Cherokees. They’ve got a great culture.”
After taking Sport into the barn, and wiping him down, Adam got an idea. “Hey Johnny?”
“How would you like to help me work with some new horses later today?”
That afternoon, Roy came out of the ranch house looking for his partner. He saw Hoss in the middle of the yard doing something with the wagon. “Hoss?” he called as he ran to the big man.
“Hoss, have you seen Johnny?” Roy asked when he reached him.
Hoss thought for a moment then snapped his finger. “Oh! He went up to the north pasture with Adam, seems your friend knows his stuff when it comes to horses.”
“Oh. Yeah, Johnny was raised in South Dakota on a ranch, so he loves working with anything he can ride.”
Hoss laughed. Looking at the wagon, he said, “Hey, Roy, wanna give me a hand?”
“Yeah, why not? Whaddya need?” Hoss directed Roy in helping him fix the wagon, telling where the grease was needed, where the bolts would be placed. Within less than an hour, the wagon was finished, and Roy prided himself being able to now say he knew how to fix a broken axle.
“Hey, thanks, Roy, that sure speed things up for me,” Hoss complimented.
“No problem… uh, anything else you need help with?” Roy asked curiously, wondering why he had an urge to help more on the ranch.
“Yeah, how about I show ya how to clean a barn nice and proper like?” Hoss asked with that typical Hoss-grin.
“Lead the way!” Roy stretched out his arm.
Up in the north pasture, John was continuing to amaze Adam with his knowledge and skills with the horses.
“I’ve never seen someone handle wild mustangs like you do, Johnny,” he complimented.
John smiled shyly, “Thanks…”
A couple of hours later, the sun slowly began to set. Adam figured they better get going if they wanted to make supper. Halfway to the Ponderosa, they heard something in the bushes.
Thinking it was probably a critter of some sort, they paid it no mind… until the shot was heard. Adam fell from his horse, unconscious before he hit the ground. Startled by the sudden gun fire, both horses took off; Johnny with his still on. Knowing Adam needed help Johnny jumped off his horse and ran back to him.
“Adam?!” he called as he ran. Finally reaching the fallen cowboy, the young paramedic knew things were bad. A small pool of blood was already forming behind Adam’s back. “Adam,” he whispered. “Can you hear me?”
Using his medical training, John immediately took Adam’s pulse and respiration… both of which were too slow and shallow. He checked his eyes by casting the shadow of his hand in front of the pupils repeatedly.
“Equal and reactive,” he muttered to himself.
After checking for any broken bones, and finding that Adam had two broken ribs on the left side of his chest, John decided to check the bullet-wound. Just as he was about to turn his friend over, another shot rang through the evening air. Johnny felt a searing burn in his chest and before he knew what happened, the darkness claimed him.
Back at the ranch, supper was finished and Ben was growing worried. He returned to his chair from the window for the umpteenth time.
“Where do you suppose they are? Adam just took John up to the North Pasture.”
“Well, Johnny’s pretty handy with horses, Mr. Cartwright,” Roy said from the settee. “Once he gets started, it’s hard to make him stop.”
Hearing horses ride up, Ben stood up and made his way to the door. “That must be them now.”
“Hoss, Joe! Roy!” he called from the porch. The tone alone in his voice made the three men fly through the house. Outside with Ben was a ranch hand driving a buckboard with Johnny and Adam in the back. Without wasting a second, Ben, Roy, and the boys took them inside and up to bed; Adam in his own room and Johnny in his. Seeing the men, Dixie, Doctor Early, and Kel rushed in to help. Dr. Early went with Adam and the Cartwrights while Dixie and Dr. Brackett went with Roy and John.
Kel and Roy gently laid Johnny on the bed as Dixie filled a basin with cold water. She soaked a cold cloth in it and handed it to Roy before she went to get a couple more blankets. Roy sat on the side of the bed next to his partner as he bathed his friend’s sweat-covered face.
“Johnny? Can you hear me, Junior?” he whispered. The younger man stirred restlessly, but didn’t awaken. “Come on, Johnny, wake up. Johnny, its Roy… wake up.” The tone is Roy’s voice obviously showed he was getting worried. Finally, after a few more moments of provoking, John’s eyes fluttered open sleepily. His eyes traveled around the room holding a look of confusion.
“Doc!” Roy called when he saw his partner waking up.
Hearing the familiar voice of his best friend, John’s head turned towards it, “R-Roy?” he stuttered, sounding as if he didn’t know for sure if it was Roy.
“Yeah, Junior, it’s me,” he reassured taking ahold of Johnny’s hand.
“Johnny?” Dr. Brackett asked from behind Roy. “Can you hear me?” John just nodded his head. “Do you remember what happened?” Kel asked and again, the paramedic just nodded.
“Johnny…” Roy called as he began to soak John’s face again. “Tell me what happened, Junior.”
“We… we were riding… heard a shot… Adam fell,” John breathed out. “Tried to help him…” Roy looked at the doctor and nurse in concern.
“Did you see who it was?” Dixie asked as she knelt down next to John.
“No… just heard… shot,” he winced as he moved slightly, gasping at the sudden wave of pain.
Roy and Dixie gently pressed him back onto the bed by his shoulders. “Ok, Johnny, just relax,” Dixie comforted as Dr. Brackett began to check the wound.
He raised his eyes to Roy in concern. “This doesn’t look good, Roy,” he whispered.
Down the hall, in Adam’s room, Dr. Joe Early was giving Mr. Cartwright the exact same look.
“Mr. Cartwright,” he began. “It seems the bullet is lodged in the lower section of the spine, between where the spine connects to the hips and the nerves. With the equipment I have I can successfully remove it, but… I don’t know if he’ll ever walk again.”
Upon hearing those terrible words, Hoss jumped up and was on his way to Dr. Martin. The look in Ben’s eyes showed plainly what he was thinking. Hearing that Adam may never walk again felt like a knife to his heart. Not wanting to see that look on his father’s face, Joe left the room, afraid that if he watched his Pa for too long he would begin to cry. He went downstairs to make coffee knowing that they would all probably be up all night long.
After further examination, Dr. Early spoke again to Ben. “Mr. Cartwright, I’d like to ask you a question.”
“Certainly,” Ben replied.
“Now, if you say no to my request, I’ll understand, but I was wondering… would you trust another doctor to treat your son?”
Ben looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “And by ‘another doctor,’ you mean yourself?”
“Knowing how serious Adam is injured… yes, Doctor, I would.”
Twenty miles from the ranch, in Virginia City, Hoss just arrived at Dr. Martin’s house.
Pounding on the door, he called, “Doc! Doc Martin, it’s Hoss Cartwright! Doc!!”
When he didn’t get an answer, he shoved the door open. After looking around a bit, Hoss concluded that the good doctor was not in. Before he left, his eyes caught sight of Paul’s medical bag. He grabbed it before he left.
Ben was pacing the floor of the Grand Room, waiting anxiously for Hoss’ return. He didn’t have to wait much longer until the big man finally returned.
“Doc wasn’t in, Pa, but I got this,” Hoss held the black medical bag in front of his father.
Ben saw the bag in his son’s hands, and smiled a satisfactory smile. He turned to go upstairs and ask the two doctors if they would help them. They agreed instantly, not because they were the only medical help available, but because these two men needed immediate attention… and one of them was a dear friend.
They decided to treat Adam first, since of the two injured men, his injury seemed the easiest to handle at the moment.
Drs. Early and Brackett seemed to forget that this wasn’t the twentieth Century and that this wasn’t twentieth Century medicine they were about to practice when they agreed to help.
Before the trio performed surgery on Adam’s injured spine, they inspected the instruments they had been given. Thank heavens for their keen eyes and brains, for they knew exactly what each tool was used for and weren’t wrong once.
Finally, they set the bedroom up into as much of an Operating Room as they could work out. With great reluctance, Ben, Hoss, and Joe agreed to go downstairs and let the professionals do their job.
Thankfully, when they were ready to start, Adam hadn’t regained consciousness. That wouldn’t have been a good thing, since the trio was used to working with high anesthetics.
With Dixie’s help, they successfully located and removed the bullet. After cleaning everything up, they allowed Ben back in.
“How is he?” he whispered, on pins and needles as to the verdict.
“Well, Mr. Cartwright, I’m going to be very straight-forward with you,” Kel said. “The bullet did bounce around a bit. It penetrated several nerves just above the base of the spinal cord.”
“What does that mean?”
Joe Early spoke up, “The nerves are what help control most of the movement of your son’s body. Some of them were just grazed, while others were severed. We don’t know if he’ll ever walk again after this.”
The truly concerned looks of Dixie and the doctors were nothing compared to the stricken sick grimace on Ben’s face. “May I be alone with him?” Ben asked quietly.
“Of course,” Kel said. He turned to his friends and beckoned they all leave the room.
As the door closed behind him, Ben moved closer to Adam and sat down next to him.
“Adam, it’s your Pa. Can you hear me son? Son…? Wake up, Adam. Wake up,” his voice cracked. Ben lowered his head onto his son’s shoulder and wept.
“How is he, Roy?” Dixie asked as they walked up to the bed.
“Exhausted and in pain…”
Dr. Early walked closer to the head of the bed and leaned over John. “Johnny?” he called.
“Johnny, we want to try to get the bullet out. The operation was successful with Adam, but if you’d rather be treated by one of their doctors we’ll understand.”
John looked up and grinned a tired crooked grin. “I wouldn’t trust… anyone but… you guys” he teased.
Doctor Early smiled back at his young friend. “Thanks… now, since we can’t measure the anesthesia like we do at Rampart, we won’t be putting you to sleep. However, we will be giving you morphine which should take away most of the pain.”
“Okay… shoot… not literally… once today is… enough,” Johnny joked in between breaths.
Dixie grinned as she loaded the syringe with morphine. “At least his sense of humor is up and running.” She gave the syringe to Kel who quickly injected it into the vein in John’s left arm.
An hour later, the bullet had been successfully removed. Soon after the surgery was completed, Johnny fell into an exhausted sleep with Roy sitting beside him holding his hand.
“Roy?” Dixie called softly from the opposite bedside. “Why don’t you come downstairs with us for a few? Johnny isn’t going anywhere.”
Roy shook his head. “I don’t want to leave him alone,” he whispered.
Dixie leaned forward and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Roy, at least come down and have a cup of coffee. You won’t be doing Johnny any good if you exhaust yourself sitting up with him.”
The paramedic sighed. “You’re right, Dix. Okay… one cup of coffee, then I’m coming back here.”
While Roy and Dixie were drinking coffee downstairs, Ben and Hoss came down.
“The doctors are examining Adam,” Ben said as he poured himself a cup.
“Is he alright?” Roy asked in concern.
Ben sighed, not being able to bring himself to tell them Adam’s condition.
Hoss spoke up for him, “They said he may not walk again…”
“Oh no,” Dixie said.
Joe Early came down the stairs a few moments later. “Kel’s with Johnny,” he said to Roy and Dixie.
“Is he awake?” Roy immediately asked upon standing up.
Joe shook his head, “He’s just looking him over.”
“Doctor, how’s Adam?” Ben asked.
“Well, Mr. Cartwright, I can’t say for sure now. We’ll be able to tell more when he wakes up.”
Hearing footsteps, everyone turned around to see Kel walking down the stairs.
“Dr. Brackett…?” Roy called. The brown-haired doctor looked up. “How’s Johnny?”
Running his hand over his forehead in frustration, Dr. Brackett looked Roy in the eyes. “Roy… I’m afraid Johnny’s fallen into a coma.”
The paramedic’s eyes widened in fright, “What?!” he nearly shouted.
“Are you sure?” Dr. Early asked.
“I wish I wasn’t, Joe.”
Roy looked about ready to cry. “Can I… can I see him?” Dr. Brackett nodded.
The younger man ran up the stairs at top speed, entering his friend’s room within seconds.
Opening the bedroom door, he found his partner lying in the bed completely unconscious and unresponsive.
“Oh God, Johnny…”
Late that night, Hoss Cartwright sat awake by his older brother’s bedside. About an hour ago, after much convincing, he finally got his father to go to sleep… or at least lie down; Ben wouldn’t be asleep anyway. Hearing a noise outside in the hallway, Hoss left his slumbering brother to investigate. He didn’t find anyone in the corridor, but the light coming through the floor of John Gage’s room did catch his eye. Upon opening the door, he saw John’s friend, Roy, sitting on the side of the bed.
“Hi,” he greeted quietly.
Roy whirled around, surprised at the voice behind him. “Oh… hi, Hoss… I thought you’d be asleep.”
“Thought you’d be too,” the big man replied as he walked into the room. “How is he?”
Roy sighed. “Not so good… he’s in a coma now, he lost too much blood. That bullet came real close to the aorta.”
“Huh?” Hoss asked, puzzled at this new word.
The paramedic snickered. “Sorry… the aorta is the vein which mainly helps the heart pump blood.”
“Oh.” Hoss noticed the somber look in Roy’s eyes. “He means a lot to ya, don’t he?”
“That obvious, huh?” he joked. “Yeah, Johnny does mean a lot to me. We’ve worked together for almost two years now. He’s like a little brother to me. I…” he stopped. “I love him,” he choked out. Finally, Roy just let the tears fall, crying and praying that his ‘little brother’ would make it through this just like he always did.
“I know how ya feel,” Hoss sniffled. “My older brother means a lot to me too.”
“I ju—I just don’t know what I’ll do if… if Johnny… dies. I can’t do anything without him,” he cried.
“Yeah, I’d probably wanna die if Adam didn’t make it too. Listen, Roy,” Hoss sat down beside him. “I know you’re upset, and you love you partner, but… you gotta be strong… for him. I got a feeling that Johnny can hear you, and I reckon if’n ya just keep on talkin’ to ‘im, he’ll come through this.”
Roy looked up; Hoss was right. “Thanks, Hoss… I guess I needed that.”
The next morning, Ben sat on the settee with Joe, nervously drumming his fingers.
“Mr. Cartwright?” Dr. Early called from the stairs. Ben stood up. The gray-haired doctor smiled happily at him. “He’s awake.”
“His… his legs…?” He was terrified of the answer, until he saw the smile stay on the doctor’s face.
“He’s moving them perfectly fine!”
Ben ran up the stairs with Little Joe. They burst through the doorway to see Adam in a semi-sitting position with Dr. Brackett examining him.
“Hey… Pa,” he breathed.
The two men walked over and Ben sat next to his son while Joe stood next to his father.
“Adam…” Ben began, but Joe cut him off.
“You scared us half to death, Older Brother! What’s wrong with you?!” he complained sarcastically with a wink.
“Well… remind me… to prepare everyone… next time… I get shot,” Adam teased.
Ben smiled, filled with joy that his son was alright once again.
On the other side of the house, Roy was woken up by someone gently shaking him awake.
“Roy?” the voice called.
“Hmm… what?” He asked in a still sleepy mind.
“Roy, relax, it’s just me,” Dixie said from beside him.
“Dix… what’s wrong?”
The older nurse smiled a big smile. “Look,” she directed.
Roy turned his head to the side to see the brown eyes of his young partner looking up at him.
“JOHNNY!” he yelled. “You’re okay!”
“Of course I am… what’d ya think? I was gonna let you… go on through life… without me?”
John Gage woke up to the sound of the SCU Morning Units sounding off.
“Hi Johnny,” Roy called from the side stepping into his turnouts and boots.
Johnny smiled. “G’morning.”
“Ok men,” Cap stood up. “Rise and shine!”
The other firefighters groaned in annoyance as they were awoken from their slumber.
“I need to brush my teeth,” Johnny sat up.
“Looks like you need a shave too,” Roy winked.
As John was finishing washing up, Roy walked into the bathroom and threw John his uniform shirt. It landed on top of his head just as he finished combing out his hair.
“Thanks,” he said sarcastically. As he pulled his t-shirt over his head, Roy stopped him.
“Where’d ya get that?” he said in surprise.
“That,” Roy pointed to a scar on the right side of John’s chest just near his heart. John looked down in shock. “Looks like a surgical scar,” the older man observed.
“Yeah…” then it dawned on him. “Adam,” he whispered.
“Oh, uh… nothing…”
Roy shrugged and began to walk to the kitchen. “I’m gonna start the coffee… you comin’?”
Johnny looked up. “Oh, uh… yeah, I’ll be there in a minute, Pally.”
“Take your time, Junior.”
Once he was alone, John just stared forward into the bathroom mirror, gently fingering the dull scar as he remembered the incidents that it was connected to.
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