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Unexpected

An Emergency Story By

Julie
 

Chapter One

 

     It was a beautiful California morning.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue and even for being nearly eight am, the temperature was a wonderful sixty five degrees.  A gentle easterly breeze was blowing through the trees bringing a refreshing ocean smell even as far inland as Station 51 in Carson. 

 

     Johnny bounced into the locker room in a great mood.  Roy was already there changing into his uniform.  "Good mornin, good mornin, good mornin." Johnny said as he enthusiastically patted Roy on the back.  He then proceeded to open his locker to change for the day. 

 

     "Good morning" Roy answered as he continued to change.  "I guess I don't have to ask you how your days off were."

 

     "They were fantastic Roy.  I took Betty out on a date yesterday.  We went to the beach and had a picnic.  It was beautiful at the beach and Betty was amazing.  The whole day was just incredible."

 

     Johnny had his uniform shirt on and was buttoning it as Captain Stanley came in "I'm glad that you're both here.  Headquarters just called and said that you were going to have a new paramedic trainee starting today.  He just finished the last training out of Rampart."

 

     Johnny finished buttoning his shirt and was busy tucking it into his pants, "Cap, do you have his name?"

"His name is Sam Anderson.  He should be here any minute.  I was told that he would be here by roll call," Stanley answer and started out the door.

 

     "Thanks Cap," they both said in unison as the door swung closed. 

 

     "Sam Anderson.  Isn't there a Sam Anderson out of 10's?"  Johnny asked.

 

     "I don't know," Roy answered.

 

     Johnny and Roy completed dressing and headed out the door for roll call.  They lined up with the rest of the guys as Captain Stanley got started with morning announcements.  "We have a busy morning with lots to do.  We have some new procedures to go over concerning high rise fires so after we get housekeeping done get in the Rec room so we can get started on that."

 

     Off to the side, out of sight of the others in the room, there was the sound of a throat clearing and Captain Stanley looked over.

 

     "Captain Stanley I presume?"

 

     "Yes, and you are?"

 

     "I'm Samantha Anderson.  I was told to report here for field training."

 

     Sam stepped further into the apparatus bay and the rest of the crew got a chance to see what had taken Captain Stanley by surprise.  Dressed in the same uniform as the Men stood a beautiful, tall, young woman in her twenties.  She had short milk chocolate  brown hair and deep brown eyes.  She stood up straight, strong and confident. Sam reached out her hand to greet the captain and he shook it in response.  "Nice to meet you Samantha.  Welcome aboard.  I just found out about you training with us a few minutes ago."  

 

     "Thanks Cap, I'm glad to be here, but please just call me Sam," she said.

 

     Johnny looked Sam over.  He had to admit to himself that she was a very good looking girl.  He could see something special in her.  He didn't know if it was the tone of her voice, the sparkle in her eyes or they way she looked in the uniform that she wore.  There was something about Samantha Anderson that got the attention of Johnny Gage.

 

     "Sam, you will be working with these two.  This is Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto.  The rest of the Crew is Engineer Mike Stoker, Firefighters Marco Lopez and Chet Kelley."

 

     Sam shook hands with the crew and exchanged greetings then Captain Stanley released them all to get to work.  Johnny and Roy exchanged glances and it was Sam who spoke up first.  "I bet I'm not quite what you expected when you were told about your new trainee this morning."

 

     "No," Roy admitted.  "So far we have only had one woman in the paramedic program."

 

     "Oh," Sam excitedly said, "How did it work out for her?"

 

     "She decided that this wasn't quite what she had in mind and went to nursing school after the first week," Johnny replied.

 

     "That's too bad," Sam admitted with disappointment.

 

     "So are you out of the hospital or fire department?" Roy asked.

 

     "Fire Department from Fort Yukon Alaska." she answered.

 

     "Could you excuse us for a minute", Roy said. Then Johnny and Roy headed to Captain Stanley's office for a discussion.

 

     "Cap, again?"  Johnny asked as he walked into the Captains office.

 

     "You have to admit, the last time we trained a girl, it didn't work quite as we had hoped," Roy said.

 

    Sam came to the office and stopped in the doorway just as Roy spoke.  "This isn't quite fair you know," Sam said.

 

    Captain Stanley furrowed his brows in confusion, "Excuse me?"

 

     "I have been here less than five minutes and it sounds like you are already dismissing me based on what happened with the last woman you trained.  I am not that person."  

   

     Sam walked further into the office and looked to each one of them, then turned to the Captain.  "Captain Stanley, I am a firefighter.  I have training and experience in rescue as well as passed the paramedic training program.  I worked hard and I earned this uniform and this badge just like all the guys who came walking through this door.  Is it really too much to ask that you all give me the same chance that you would give anyone else?"

 

     "Half shifts like before?" Roy asked.

     "No," Captain Stanley answered.  "I was told to treat Sam like you would anyone else.  She will let you know what she needs to be comfortable."  

 

     Sam winked at Roy and said, "Don't worry, seeing a bunch of guys in their underwear doesn't bother me."

 

     Roy was obviously taken aback from her comment and even started to blush.  Captain Stanley lowered his head, stifling a small laugh.  When he lifted his head he said "Roy, John how about getting Sam a turn out and helmet?"

 

     "Sure Cap," Johnny answered.  

 

     Sam followed Roy and Johnny out.  They found her a turnout and helmet. She stored them in the squad and the three of them began to prepare the squad for the day.  The klaxon sounded and everyone bounded to their vehicles.  Sam slipped on her helmet and scooted into the middle of the seat.  The two men climbed in next to her.

 

  "Station 51, man trapped on a crane.  Construction site at 51st and Lincoln.  51st and Lincoln.  Time out 8:27."

 

  "Station 51, KMG365," Stanley answered and the station was out the door.

 

   As they approached the corner, they saw the very large construction crane that had been working on the high rise.  In the middle of the arm they could see a small form sitting quietly.  Sam, John and Roy approached Captain Stanley as the foreman was telling him what was happening.

 

     "I saw him when I came in this morning.  I guess he climbed up there when the sun came up.  I don't really know what he's doing up there, he's not a part of my crew or anything."

 

     "John, Roy.  Grab belts and ropes.  Lets get you guys up there."

 

     Sam stopped him, "Cap, what about me.  I can do this."

 

     "Go ahead Sam."

 

    Sam followed the guys.  She slapped on her safety belt, grabbed some rope and gloves then followed Johnny and Roy up the long climb and the crane.  They finally reached the top and looked over at the man sitting on the crane.  He was a middle aged man with short thinning brown hair wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants.  He obviously didn't belong on a construction site.  He was sitting on the crane holding onto the beam he was sitting on with his legs hanging down.  The man continued to look down, refusing to make eye contact.  Even when Roy called out to the him he just continued to sit looking down.  He didn't move.  Before Johnny could say anything, Sam spoke up.       

     "Guys, tie me off, I'll go out there and get him."

 

     "Sam, you don't have anything to prove," Roy said.

 

     Sam seemed a little insulted by Roy's comment.  "I'm not trying to prove anything to you or anyone else.  I have nothing TO prove.  This is part of my job, just like its part of yours.  Besides, I don't know what your experience is, but I know that I have lots of experience with rescues like this.  Anyway, I'm the smallest and will be easiest to hold.  I guess you're just going to have to trust that I know what I'm doing as much as I'm going to have to trust that you two will have my back."

 

     Roy and Johnny looked at each other.  She was right.  At some point they would have to trust her.  She was wearing the same uniform and badge as they were, so she had to be trained and she was the smallest, so if anything did go wrong, she would be the easiest to hold.  The biggest difference from many people in this same type of situation was that Sam moved at this great height with ease instead of fear.  With what little they had seen so far, she seemed to know what she was doing.  Sam tied herself in and started to climb up onto the crane arm.  

 

     "So, are you two going to anchor me or what?" Sam asked them.

 

     Roy wrapped the rope around his back and around a bar of the crane.  Johnny held the end and both men watched as Sam walked down the beam toward the man.  Sam walked with grace as a gymnast does on a balance beam.

 

     "Slack,". She yelled to the guys.  

 

     As she got within a few feet of the victim, he looked up at Sam and said "Don't come any closer."

 

     Sam stopped and sat on the beam facing him.  "Why do you want me to stop?"

 

     "I don't want you to stop me," he answered.

 

     "So I guess you're thinking about jumping," Sam said.  "Can I ask why?"

 

     The man sighed deeply.  He looked up at her.  Tears were forming in his exhausted eyes.  He seemed to have lost all his strength and hope.

 

     Sam looked at him with compassion in her eyes, "Did your wife leave you?"  

 

     "Not exactly," he said, "She died of cancer last month," he answered.

 

     "I'm sorry"  Sam said.  "That's rough.  I understand how you feel.  It's so hard watching someone you love go through that.  You want so much to keep them with you, and then feel so guilty about it because they are suffering so much."  

 

     He slowly nodded his head.    "What's your name?" Sam asked.

 

     "Harry" he answered.

 

     "Nice to meet you Harry.  I'm Sam."

 

     "I didn't know there were any girls in the fire department," Harry said.

 

     "No.  There's not too many."  Sam smiled at him.  "Harry, do you have any kids or family?"  Sam asked.

 

     Harry answered,  "No.  We thought we had plenty of time to start a family.  I'm all alone now."

 

     Sam thought back to what her past year had been like.  About the funeral that she attended and having to say good bye to her father before he was buried jumped to the front of her mind.  She remembered how hard it was to walk into the house and listen to the silence in those empty rooms instead of the sound of her father making repairs or cooking the meals.  She remembered the laughter and the hugs that she now missed so very much.

 

      "Harry, I know it's hard." Sam explained.  "My mom died of cancer when I was little and I just lost my Dad just last year.  I have no brothers or sisters.  I'm alone in this world too.  I know it's hard to be left behind."  Sam started to scoot closer and closer to Harry.  "Just waking up everyday and going on with life seems impossible.  I feel it too.  Harry, I cant even guess why your wife was taken away from you.  But there is a reason for you to still be here, just like there is a reason for me to be here."

 

     Johnny and Roy listened to what she said to him and watched as she started to move and emotionally connect with Harry.  Sam scooted even closer to Harry.  She reached out and touched him on the chin.  She raised his chin up and looked him right in the eyes.  "Harry.  I hurt too.  It hurts every day.  But, we cant just give up.  We've got to have faith that there is more for us."  Sam paused in her own thoughts then spoke to him again.  "Harry, Please don't jump.  Don't leave me.  Harry, can you please come down from here with me?"  Harry looked up at Sam.  He could see the pain in her face and knew that she spoke the truth.  He wiped away a tear and nodded.

 

     Sam reached back and pulled the spare safety belt around.  "Harry, I'm going to put this safety belt around you, then we are going to crawl over to where my partners are waiting for us.  Ok?"  Harry nodded.

 

     Johnny and Roy watched as Sam stood up on the beam and gracefully stepped around Harry so that she could put the safety belt on him from behind.  "Roy, she needs some slack," Johnny said and they snaked a little more rope out to her.  Sam then made a loop in the rope and connected Harry to the lifeline with enough slack that they could both move back across the crane arm to Johnny and Roy.  "Ok Harry, you are all tied off.  Can you get on your hands and knees and crawl forward?"

 

     "OK" Harry said and started to move into position.

 

     Sam put her hands on Harry's hips to help him balance while he got his knees on the beam.  He started to crawl forward with Sam following right behind.

 

     "Roy, here they come," Johnny said.  He started to snake the rope back as the pair came closer and closer.  "Take it easy.  Just a few more feet," Sam said.

 

     Harry continued to slowly move his hand forward.  He momentarily looked up at Johnny.  When he did that, Harry misplaced his hand.  Harry's right hand slipped off the beam and he fell head first.

 

 Harry started to scream as he flew through the air.  Captain Stanley, flinched and caught his breath as he saw what was happening.  Without hesitation Sam dived to Harry and wrapped her arms and legs around him as they started to drop.  Johnny and Roy  braced for the pair to come to the end of the rope. They came to the end of the rope with a jerk and swung toward the crane tower.  Sam instinctively rotated her body and took the brunt of the collision with the tower on her back, protecting Harry from injury.  As they struck her helmet flew off her head and made the long drop to the ground.  The tower vibrated from the impact.  Johnny yelled down "SAM!  ARE YOU TWO OK?"

 

     After a moment he heard her yell back up to him.  "Yeah.  We're ok, but I'm going to need help getting us in."

 

    Captain Stanley watched what they were doing and looked over at Chet.  "Chet, get up there and see if you can help them out." 

 

     Chet buckled his safety belt and grabbed his gloves as he ran to the crane.  Johnny tied off the end of the rope.  Then rushed down to where Sam and Harry were hanging.  They were dangling two to three feet away from the tower.  Sam looked calm while Harry seemed to be scared to death.  Chet came rushing up the ladder to help out.  Johnny hooked his safety belt to the crane then reached way out and grabbed Sam by her outstretched hand.  He pulled the two of them in to the ladder.  Johnny put Harry then Sam on the ladder and as Roy untied the rope they started moving down with Chet leading the way.  After going a little way down, they stopped so that Roy could come down to anchor them and they continued to move the rest of the way to the ground.  As Harry's feet came to the ground his knees began to buckle and he started to cry. Johnny and Chet supported him and walked him over to the engine where he could sit.  Sam came up from behind and took his pulse while Johnny checked his blood pressure.  Roy came along a moment later, but seeing that Harry was taken care of, he observed Sam with Johnny.  Although Harrys blood pressure and pulse were a little high from the scare and exertion, he was in good shape and needed no medical care.  Harry apologized for his actions.  He stood up to thank Sam and hugged her.  As he did so, Captain Stanley, Johnny and Roy watched her wince with the squeeze.  The police came over to talk to Harry.

 

Sam, seeing that Harry was now fine, started walking to the squad away from everyone else.  She started taking off her gloves and began to unbuckle her belt so she could store the equipment.  She moved her arm around as though she was trying to get a kink out of her shoulder.  Captain Stanley nodded knowingly to Johnny and Roy.  They walked up behind Sam, also stowing their equipment.  As they all climbed into the squad, Johnny handed Sam her helmet.  

 

     "You moved pretty good up there Sam," Johnny said.

 

     "Thanks.  You guys are pretty good too." Sam explained.  "I've done quite a few mountain rescues.  You know, pulling people off the side of a mountain and stuff like that.  To be honest, I think mountain rescues are much more difficult than this tower."  Sam smiled at the two men.

 

     Roy started the squad and they began to drive away.

 

     "So, how long have you been with the Fire Department?" Roy asked.

 

     "About 4 years" Sam answered.  "I joined up when I was 18.  I came to LA about 6 months ago".

 

     "What brought you to LA?" Johnny asked.

 

Sam looked around as if she suddenly became aware of where they were.  "What are we doing at Rampart?"

 

     "You took quite a hit on that crane tower," Roy said.  "Captain Stanley wants to make sure that you weren't hurt."

 

    "I'm not hurt.  I'm sure It's just a bruise."

 

    "It's saves Captain Stanley on paperwork if we keep on top of things" Johnny added.

 

     They walked into Rampart and met up with the beautiful Dixie McCall.  "Hi guys. So it looks like your training my girl Sam."  Dixie smiled at them, "So how's she doing so far?"  

 

Johnny answered, "The Only thing that we've seen so far is that Sam climbs like a mountain goat.  Hey Dix, do you have a doctor available?"

 

     "Yeah, Kel is in room three, why?  What's up?"

 

     "Your girl here swung into a crane tower pretty hard," Roy answered.  "We just wanted to make sure there was no permanent damage done."

 

     Roy smiled over at Sam as the group walked into treatment three.  As they opened the door, Dr. Kelly Brackett was looking at a chart and giving final instructions to Nurse Betty.  Betty took the chart and headed out as the group came in.  "Hi Sam." He said.

 

     "Hi Doc" Sam answered.

 

    "So what can I do for you?"

 

    "Apparently Sam hit a crane tower pretty are during a rescue this morning and the guys thought that you should take a look."  Dixie announced.

 

    "Doc, it really isn't a big deal." Sam said.  "I'm pretty sure I have a pretty good bruise but I don't think there's anything else."

 

     "We'll, why don't you let me be the judge of that.  Come on over here and let me take a look."

 

     Johnny gave her a bit of a shove.  Sam looked back at him with annoyance then walked over and sat on the exam table.  She took off her uniform shirt leaving on just a white tank top.  Doctor Brackett lifted the back of the shirt to reveal what the guys expected to see; a multicolored bruise down her back from her shoulder blade to the belt line from where she struck the tower.  They also saw something they didn't expect to see.  It was a large burn scar, the size of an overinflated basketball on her back above her right hip.  Doctor Brackett probed the bruise and found the expected tenderness, but no breaks or any serious damage.  "I take it you were wearing your helmet when you hit?". 

 

     Sam nodded as doctor Brackett checked in her hairline for any lumps or tender spots.  Wearing her helmet left her without even a scratch on her head.  

 

     "Well, you have quite a bruise but I don't see anything more serious than that," Doctor Brackett said.  "Sam, go ahead and get dressed.  I think your fine to get back to work." 

 

     Bracket and the guys left the room so Sam could redress in private.  "Hey, how did you guys get so lucky with having Sam with you."

 

     "Why do you say that we're lucky?" Roy asked.

 

     "She scored in the top of her class.  The only ones I've ever seen that have as great a natural ability at this as Sam does is the two of you.  I understand the fire department she transferred from was pretty upset to lose her too.  She was one of their best."

 

     "I can believe that," Johnny said.  "She did great with this mornings rescue."

 

     Just then, Sam came out of the treatment room.  "So, are you done talking about me now, or should I go back in?"  Sam smiled at the group.

 

     Just then the handy talkie chimed, "squad 51, possible drowning 1522 even hurst, 1522 even hurst.  Cross street, Montgomery."

 

     Johnny answered, "squad 51 responding from Rampart Emergency."

 

     Sam waved as the trio headed out to the squad and raced to the scene.

 

     They arrived at the scene.  A beautiful ranch home was before them.  An attractive blonde woman came running out to meet them carrying a small child.  The woman was hysterical and screaming about her baby.  Both of them were soaking wet.  The boy was limp and had a blue tint to his face and arms.  Johnny grabbed the baby from the woman's hands and began mouth to mouth.  The woman was crying and tried to explain that the baby got out of the house through the sliding door and she found him in the pool.  Roy and Sam pulled equipment out of the squad.  Johnny knelt down resting the boys butt on his knee.  Sam began checking for a pulse.  

 

     "No pulse," she said.  Johnny laid the boy down in the grass and began CPR.

 

     Roy called Rampart and began to explain the situation.  "Rampart, we have a boy, three years old, apparent drowning in a swimming pool.  We have started CPR."

 

     Sam got oxygen on the boy and brought out the defibrillator.

 

     "How long was he in the water?" Roy asked the mother.

 

     "I don't know," she sobbed "He was suppose to be in his room taking a nap.  It could have been 1/2 an hour."

 

     Sam and Johnny moved seamlessly as though they had been working together for years.  Sam cut the shirt up the front and put the paddles on his chest to check heart rate.  "Flatline," Johnny said.  

     The mother gasped as they defibrillated, once, twice, then three times.  There was no conversion.  They followed Ramparts instructions, started an IV and inserted an airway.  Neighbors began to gather around.  One woman put her arm around the weeping mother to comfort her.  The mother dropped to her knees and sobbed.  The ambulance arrived.  Johnny, Roy and Sam quickly put the boy on the gurney.  They rushed him into the ambulance and to the hospital.  

 

     Johnny, Roy and Sam came out of the treatment room with doctor Brackett.  "There really wasn't any more that you could do," Brackett said "We gave it everything we had.  he was just in the water too long." They all nodded in understanding.

 

     "Well, we better get back to the barn," Roy said.

 

     The three walked slowly out to the Squad to head back to the station.  "Squad 51 available" Johnny reported on the radio.

 

     Sam sat quietly between them.  The three sat silent for a while.  Roy decided to break the silence.  "Sam, you did a good job".

 

     "Thanks Roy," Sam responded.  She gave a weak smile.  

 

     They came back to the station just in time for Marcos Irish stew.  The wonderful smell of the stew filled the whole room.  Mike was putting silverware out and Chet was putting the plates on the table.  "Johnny, can you get the glasses for me?" Chet asked

 

     "I got it" Sam said.

 

     Before anyone could say anything more Sam opened the cub bard and was splashed in the face by a big cup of water.  She stood there for a minute stunned.  Chet giggled and said "it looks like the phantom has claimed a new victim."

 

     Sam turned and looked right at Chet "The Phantom huh?"  She used her hand to wipe some of the water out of her eyes.  "Chet, I think you have started something you are going to regret."

 

     Sam went to the locker room to dry off.  Johnny was trying hard to hide his smile as she walked by.  Then he left to follow her.  Johnny found her in the locker room with a paper towel drying off her face and hair.  She saw Johnny come in.  He was smiling.

      

     "The phantom," she asked.

 

     "Yeah.  Chet usually gets me with that."

 

     "Really?" Sam turned around with a smile on her face.  She leaned back against the sink and looked at Johnny.  "I think it's time to teach Chet and that Phantom a lesson, don't you Johnny?"

 

      "Do you have something in mind?" Johnny smiled and said.

 

      "I can cook up something?" Sam answered.  "But the timing has to be just right.  right.  Now he'll be on the lookout for something.  I've got to get him when he least expects it.  Now, If you'll excuse me a minute, I better get a dry shirt on."  Sam walked to the back of the locker room and Johnny headed back to the Rec room with the other guys.  

 

     In the Rec room, they had already started dinner and Police Officer Charlie walked in and joined the men.  "Charlie," Johnny said, "what are you doing here?"

 

     "Hi John, I came to see Sam Anderson" he answered.  "Is she here?"

 

     "Yeah Charlie, she's in the locker room changing to a dry shirt."

 

     "So what did she do?" Chet asked.

 

     "We'll Chet, it turns out your new paramedic trainee is multitalented.  She was running through the park near her house yesterday and was jumped by a mugger.  She threw the guy to the ground, breaking his arm in the process.  By the time we got there she had his arm splinted and was sitting on him."  

 

     "Far out,". Johnny exclaimed as he giggled.  

 

     Charlie continued with his story.  "I feel sorry for anyone her crosses her.  Sam is one tough cookie."

 

     "Chet," Marco Said.  "You are in trouble," Marco patted Chet on the back and sat down to start dinner.

 

     Chet sat in his seat with a somewhat frightened look on his face as Sam came walking back in pinning her name tag to her clean dry shirt.

 

     "I hope you weren't waiting on me to start dinner," Sam said.  "It smells wonderful Marco.". Then she saw Charlie standing there.

 

     "Oh, hi Charlie."  Sam said as she sat and started eating her meal along with the rest of the guys who also began to dig in.

 

     "I just came by to let you know, the guy who attacked you yesterday confessed to everything.  I guess he had been working that park for a few weeks" Charlie explained,  

    

     "You really did a great service by catching him."

 

     "I'm glad I could help," Sam said.

 

     Sam grabbed a dinner role out of the bowl and sat calmly eating.  Most of the other guys stared at her, somewhat surprised by how calm she was about the whole thing.  

 

     "Far Out," Johnny said again.

 

     "What is?"  Sam asked.

 

     "You are." Johnny said, "You are full of surprises."  Johnny and Roy exchanged glances.  They both looked on their new trainee with a new and greater respect.  Everyone started to eat.

 

     The station was quiet and dark.  In the dorm the sounds of slumber filled the air.  Sam slept alone at the far end of the dorm.  She was sleeping fitfully.

 

The glow of the fire filled the area in front.  Vinnie was standing in front.   He turned and yelled out, "I'm going for the shut off valve.  Cover me."  

 

     Vinnie turned and ran into the fire area.  Sam dragged her hose and followed him in.  Becca came up next to Sam, also dragging a hose.  She smiled at Sam then looked forward again.  Beccas hose came to life spraying Vinnie on the back.  Vinnie reached the valve and worked on turning it so that they could start to control the fire.   Suddenly, there was an explosion.  Sam watched as Vinnie was blown to pieces.  Fire and shrapnel flew toward Becca and Sam.  Sam tried to turn.  She looked to Becca in time to see her hit in the face by flaming shrapnel as Sam got hit in the back and knocked unconscious.  Everything went black.

 

     A scream filled the dorm room.  The men woke and looked up just in time to see Sam run past them and into the latrine. "What the hell was that?"  Captain Stanley exclaimed.

 

     "I think it was Sam," said Roy, "I'll go check."

 

      Roy and Johnny pulled on their turn out pants and headed into the latrine.  Sam had her head in the toilet vomiting.  Johnny grabbed a paper towel and moistened it while Roy went over and put his hand on her back.  Sam was wearing her traditional work night sleeping clothes of a white tank top and blue gym shorts.  She sat back on the floor and Johnny squatted down next to her.  He handed Sam the paper towel.  "Are you ok?" He said.

 

     Sam thanked Johnny then wiped her face with the paper towel.  "I'm fine Johnny.  thanks.  It was just a nightmare."

 

     "It must have been pretty bad for you to be in here," Roy said.

 

     "I'm sure we all have something happen at work that haunts us."

 

     "What happened?"  Johnny asked.

 

     Sam signed.  "A little over a year ago I was at a refinery fire.  My best friend Vinnie was captain at the neighboring engine company.  We grew up together.  My dad used to say we were together so much as babies that we were always stealing each others bottles.  He was the closest I had to a brother.  Anyway, I was covering him with my  line and my friend Becca was on another line next to me while Vinnie tried to reach the shut off valve.  Before he could reach the valve, it blew.  I watched Vinnie blow up into a million pieces.  He never had a chance.  Becca was hit in the face with burning shrapnel.  She was so badly burned, she never even made it to the hospital.  She died in the ambulance on the way in.  Her larynx closed up from the heat.  I was hit in the back and knocked unconscious.  I was in the hospital for a few weeks with a hairline skull fracture and some nasty burns on my back.  I know the wasn't really anything we could do for Vinnie, but if Becca could have had more than first aid, I can't help to think that she might have lived.  If I knew what I know now.  Things could have been different.  Maybe I could have saved her."

 

     "Wow, that's rough," Johnny said.

 

     Johnny thought back to all the fires he was part of and the firefighters that have been lost over the years.  He looked over at Roy he looked back at Johnny with understanding.  They had both lost fellow firefighters before too.  He knew that even though it was misplaced, that Sam also felt some guilt about the loss of her friends.

 

     "Losing that baby today and the mother so hysterical," Sam explained.  "Just the whole thing kind of got to me.  It's been a while since I've done a rescue like that. Sometimes I have nightmares when..."  

   

     Sam looked to Roy and John attempting to smile.  "Don't worry.  It doesn't happen every night."

 

     "Have you talked to anyone about this?"  Roy asked.

 

     "Yeah.  I met with the department psychologist a few times.  We talked about it and for the most part I've put it behind me.  I'm never going to forget, but I've come to the point where I can live with it.  Just sometimes it... I'm sorry I woke you guys up."

 

     "It's ok,"Johnny explained.  "But I can't answer for the other guys."  He smiled at her and Sam smiled back, knowing that they both understood.

 

     "Are you ready to go back to bed?"

 

     "Yeah, I am tired" she answered.  

 

     Johnny stood up and put his hand out for her.  Sam took his hand and stood up. They walked back into the door room and were about to climb back into bed when the klaxon sounded.  "Station 51, Structure fire..."

 

     Sam pulled on her turn out pants and ran out to join the others.

 

    The four story hotel was fully involved by the time they got there.  Flames and smoke were flowing out of the first story windows like water.  Several more engine companies arrived to join in the fight.  Captain Stanley called out orders to everyone.  "Gage, DeSoto, Anderson, get in there and make sure that everyone made it out."

 

     Johnny, Roy and Sam finish putting on their gear and started moving into the building followed by Marco and Chet covering them with the hose.  Other engine companies came in behind and started fighting the flames on the ground level.  The ground level was open with an atrium, lobby, restaurant, fountain and sitting area.  The heat was intense as they moved up the stairs to the second and third floor, searching for victims.  All the rooms were on the outside walls and opened to a wide walkway that overlooked the atrium area in the center of the lower floor.  Johnny, Roy and Sam went room by room kicking in doors and calling out for victims trapped by the fire.  They got to the third floor well ahead of Chet and Marco.  Sam reached out and found that the wall was hot.  "Johnny, this wall is really hot."  

 

     Roy reached out and nodded to Johnny.  The fire had climbed up the partition wall of the building.  Johnny got on the handy talkie to let Captain Stanley know what they discovered.  But before he could say anything there was an explosion from the wall and the nearby room doors.  Roy was thrown down by the concussion of the blast and was not moving.  Johnny was thrown through the rail backwards and the rail gave.  Sam yelled, "Johnny!" As he started to take a three story backward tumble.  

 

     Johnny's three story fall jerked to a stop.  He looked up to see that somehow Sam had grabbed hold of the shoulder strap of his SCBA.  She was laying down almost hanging off the edge of the landing.  The glow of the flames lit everything behind her and water started dripping off her helmet and coat as the fire sprinklers on the upper levels of the hotel came to life.  Sam was breathing heavy and Johnny could see the strain on her face as she struggled to pull him to safety.  "I've got you Johnny," Sam said.  "I'm not gonna let you fall."  

 

     Sam was determined.  She struggled to her knees and pulled with all her might until Johnny was able to grab onto the landing rail and helped pull himself up.  As they were struggling, Sam noticed the deep gash on Johnny's right leg above his knee.  It cut right through the leg of the turnout.  She dragged him up onto the landing but they didn't have much of a chance to catch their breath.  The fire was brighter, hotter and growing.  If they didn't move soon they would never make it out.  "Can you walk?"  She asked.

 

     "Yeah, I think so." Johnny answered.  "What about Roy?"

 

     Sam looked over at Roy laying on the ground nearby, unconscious.  "I'll get Roy.  Come on, lets get out of here."

 

     Sam grabbed Johnny's hand and pulled him up to his feet and away from the broken rail.  Johnny started limping toward the stairs.  As Sam paused for Roy, Johnny stopped and pulled the HT out of his pocket.  "Engine 51, this is HT 51, we've had an explosion.  The 3rd floor is fully involved and we have a code I.  We are heading down."  

 

     "10-4 HT 51," Captain Stanley said.

 

     Sam went over to Roy and checked his pulse then pulled Roy onto her shoulders and carried him, following Johnny down the stairs. From time to time, Johnny grabbed a hold of her shoulder to balance or move from one railing to another.  Chet and Marco met them on the stairs with their hoses.  Both men wanted to step up and help Sam carry Roy down the remaining stairs, but the fire was so large at that point that Chet and Marco let the trio move past as they worked to fight back the flames and protect their friends.  Sam, Johnny and Roy finally made it to the ground floor and started outside.  As they were coming out of the building, Captain Stanley watched in amazement and respect as Sam carried Roy while a limping Johnny was holding on to her shoulder for balance and support.  That was a sight he really didn't expect.  He thought the injured person was going to be Sam.  Stanley ran up and grabbed Johnny around the waist, helping him limp quickly to safety.  He then helped Johnny to sit on the running board of the squad.  Sam gently sat Roy down.  She quickly took off his helmet and SCBA, then did a quick assessment.  Stanley grabbed the bio phone and equipment and put it in front of Johnny.  "Are you ok John?" He asked.  

 

     "Yeah, my legs cut but I'm ok Cap,"  Johnny answered.  Captain Stanley opened the trauma box and handed Johnny a large gauze pad.  Johnny used to put pressure on his leg wound.  Captain Stanley helped wrap Johnny's leg with Kerlex.  Sam quickly got Roy's vitals then turned to look at Johnny.  She saw that he was bandaged and looked to him to help as he could while Captain Stanley got back to the rest of the men and got this fire under control.

 

     "Johnny, can you contact Rampart for me?" Sam asked.

 

     "Yeah," he answered.

 

     Johnny, although busy relaying messages back and forth, he was watching Sam in awe of the courage and professionalism that she had shown throughout this first day and especially tonight.  After what she told him and Roy, he understood so much more about what drove her.  It was the same as what drove him to go to such great lengths to protect the victims they was sent to help.  Sam quickly followed ramparts instructions to stabilize Roy, then she took a closer look at Johnny.  The siren blared as an ambulance arrived and she took charge getting both Roy and Johnny into the ambulance and taken care of.  She was quick and efficient, but had a gentleness about everything that she did.  Johnny thought about this morning.  His and Roy's job was to ease her into functioning as well as they did.  Instead she taught them to not underestimate anyone.  She jumped in feet first in ways they never expected and as Brackett had said earlier, everything seemed so natural to Sam.  She was already doing her job well.  The training she would need would be simple.  It would just be technique and style.  Johnny was confident in her ability to handle whatever needed to be done.  He laid his head back, comfortable in the fact that he didn't need to worry about himself or Roy, because Sam was there to take care of them.

 

   The fire was finally coming under control.  Chet was stowing his gear.  One of the other firefighters came to Chet and started talking to him.  "Hey Chet, I hear you have some chick training with you guys." The man laughed.  "When is the department going to learn that this is no place for girls."  

 

     "Andy, that 'chick' just pulled Johnny and Roy out of that fire single-handedly." Chet angrily said.

 

 "She saved both their lives.  I would be more than happy to have her with me any day."  Chet slammed the compartment door and stormed away to drive the squad to the hospital, leaving Andy to stare after him.

 

     In the hospital, Doctor Brackett came in to check on Johnny.  Johnny sat on the exam table ready to have his thigh stitched up.  "How's Roy," Johnny asked.  

 

     "He's fine" Brackett answered.  "He's got a pretty good bump on the head and a concussion.  He's going to spend a day or two here.

 

     Johnny sighed in relief.  "Good."

 

     Dixie came in and helped as Dr. Brackett put the first stitch into Johnny's leg.  

 

"A few stitches and you'll be good as new," Brackett answered.  "You got lucky.  No nerve or arterial damage.  But I think I'm going to keep you here until tomorrow afternoon anyway.  I want to make sure your pain is under control and you're able to get around all right before you go.  You also earned a two week vacation until these stitches come out."

 

     "Is Sam still here?" Johnny asked.

 

     "She's with Roy and Joe," Dixie answered.  "So what happened?"

 

     "We were searching the 3rd floor of a hotel fire.  Sam found a hot wall.  Before we could do anything, it flashed.  Roy was knocked out and I was thrown through the rail.  I don't know how, but Sam grabbed me before I fell and pulled me back up to the landing.  Then she carried Roy and half carried me down stairs."  Johnny looked down at the next stitch being put in his leg.  "Sam is incredible.  I don't know how she managed to pull me up, let alone carry Roy and practically carry me all the way down all those stairs."

 

     "It sounds like she's made quite an impression on you," Dixie said.

 

     Before Johnny could say anything more, Sam came in, dirty, sweaty and her short brown hair in all directions.  "How are you doing Johnny?"  Sam asked.

 

     "I'm doing all right," Johnny answered.

 

     "No permanent damage done?"  Sam joked, referring to when they said that about the bruise on her back from earlier in the day.  Even though Johnny knew that Roy was well taken care of, he still worried about his partner and best friend.  "How's Roy?"  Johnny asked.

 

     "He's fine," Sam answered.  "He's awake and was asking about you too.  He has one hell of a headache though.  Roy is being moved to his room now."

 

     "Johnny will be joining him in there in a few minutes," Brackett said as he finished the final stitch on Johnny's leg.  Dr. Brackett stepped back for a minute to clean up and to get the supplies to finish bandaging Johnny's leg.  Sam stepped closer to Johnny.  Johnny looked up at her.  He smiled his crooked smile then his face got more serious.    

  

     "I wanted to thank you," Johnny said, "You saved my life, and Roy's too."

 

     Sam understood what he meant but shared the modesty of her fellow firefighters.  "Don't worry about it.  I was just doing my job." Sam said.  She smiled at him and touched Johnny on his shoulder.  

     "Listen, I'm going to have to get going.  The next shift was called in early to cover for you guys."

 

 Sam started to leave.  "Are you going to need a ride home tomorrow?  I'd be happy to come pick you up.  I don't think you'd be able to drive very well with those stitches."

 

     Johnny smiled.  "Thanks, but I'll be all right.  I don't want to put you out.  I'm sure I can catch a ride home with Roy and Joann."

 

     "We'll if anything comes up, just let me know.  It wouldn't be putting me out at all.  I would be happy to help out."  Sam nodded at Dixie who gave her a wink.  She turned to leave.  Just as she was walking out the exam room door, Sam took a look back at Johnny and waved.  "Take care Johnny."  Then Sam was out the door.  Johnny just stared at her with half a smile.   

 

 

Chapter Two

 

     It had been several weeks since Johnny and Roy were released from the hospital and started back to work.  Dr. Brackett, Captain Stanley, Chief Sorensen, Johnny and Roy were sitting around the kitchen table talking.  The time had come to discuss the paramedic trainees and decide who would be recommended for certification.  Sam was in the apparatus bay polishing the squad while she waited to hear the decision.  Marco watched her work.  "Sam, if you polish that door any more the paint is going to come off," he joked.

 

     Sam stopped polishing the squad and gave Marco a nervous smile.

 

     Marco continued, "There's nothing for you to worry about.  You've done a great job.  You know that Johnny and Roy will back you."

 

"I know," Sam said.  "But so often it all comes down to my being just a girl."

 

"You're nothing like any girl I've ever met" Marco said.

 

Sam gave Marco a curious look and threw the polishing rag at him.  "Should I be flattered or insulted by that comment?" 

 

     Chief Sorenson brought out some paperwork and was looking it through before beginning to speak.  "John, Roy.  Lets go ahead and get started with your trainee.  When Sam first transferred here from Alaska, I talked to her and her last Captain at length and thought long and hard before

bringing her on.  The success or failure of Sam Anderson could have implications for the Fire Department as a whole far into the future.  Because of your exceptional skills as paramedics and the solidness of this crew is the reason that I had Sam do her field training at 51.  Even so, I still had three main concerns with bringing Samantha Anderson on as a Paramedic and Firefighter.  I hope to be able to leave this table without a shadow of a doubt to her ability to do her job and do it well."  All at the table nodded in agreement to what the Chief was saying.  

 

     "My first concern is that while you were both out injured, Samantha was working with Craig Brice.  He put in his report that she Performed adequately as a paramedic" chief Sorenson said.  "I'm not sure I like the sound of an adequate performance.

 

"Brice," Johnny grumbled under his breath.  Sorenson looked over at Johnny.

 

     Roy leaned forward,"We all know about Brice and his reports.  Sometimes Brice has difficulty giving credit where credit is due.  Johnny and I have spent a great deal more time working with Sam, while Brice only spent two weeks with her.  I feel that our length of time with her gives us a better basis for evaluation."

 

     Johnny brought up his thoughts as well.  "From the first day she has been here, Sam's performance as a paramedic has been much more than what Brice described as adequate.  I would even go as far as to say her performance was exceptional.  Every suggestion that we have made to her has been solely style and technique.  She took the suggestions well, learned from every opportunity she could and incorporated everything we taught her.  There have been no major issues what so ever."

 

     Roy added, "Sam is very smart and knowledgeable.  She asks questions, is eager to learn and seems to have a genuine gift for the work that she does.  We both consider Sam to be a very conscientious and solid paramedic."

 

     "That is really good to hear," Chief Sorenson said.  "The other concern I have had was her ability to perform firefighting and rescue duties" Sorenson said.  "In all the discussions I have had with Hank it seems that she is very skilled in that respect.  Do either of you have any additional comments?"

 

Johnny and Roy nodded in agreement.  "From the beginning we have treated her in the same way as we have treated any other rescue man," Roy explained.  "In every situation we have encountered, Sam has always had our back."

 

     "My final concern was with the fact that she is a woman.  I was concerned with how she would fit in.  So, can you tell me how she is getting along with the rest of the crew?  Is she fitting in all right?  Have there been any issues that have come up?"

 

     Just then a noise from the phantoms contraptions could be heard from the locker room.  Chet screaming "Sam" could be heard throughout the station.

 

"She fits in just fine," Captain Stanley said through a smile.  Sorensen nodded in understanding of the firehouse prank.  He thought back to the many pranks that he had pulled as he moved through the ranks as well.  Just from the fact that she was being accepted so well put Chief Sorenson at ease.

     "Then if there are no further concerns to discuss, I believe that we will recommend Samantha Anderson for Paramedic Certification," Chief Sorenson announced.

 

     The signal started to go off.  "Station 51, traffic accident.  Fourth floor parking structure. Corner of Elm and Cyprus.  Elm and Cyprus.  Time out, 10:21." 

 

Johnny, Roy and Captain Stanley got up from the table and headed to their vehicles.

     

     Captain Stanley went to the podium and confirmed. "Station51, 10-4.  KMG 365." 

 

     Sam was already sitting in the squad with her helmet on, ready to go.  She had a Cheshire Cat smile on her face.  Chet came running past Johnny and Roy covered in white dust.  A white powder flew behind him off his hair and face as he ran by.  Roy and Johnny climbed into the squad.  They put on their helmets to get ready to go.  Captain Stanley handed Roy the information and Roy passed it to Johnny.  Johnny looked over at Sam who was trying very hard not to laugh about Chet.  Johnny said, "flour?"

 

     Sam answered, "Baby powder.  I thought it might be time for the phantom to dry off."

 

     "He looks like he's wearing a powdered wig," Johnny giggled.  Johnny and Roy smiled as the squad drove to the rescue with the engine right behind.

 

     The squad and the engine drove up the parking structure.  It was a large 5 story parking structure near an office building.  When they got to the fourth floor they were waved down by the security guard from the booth on the main floor.  He pointed to a white car driven up on another car.  It had been moving so fast that it had ripped through part of the metal railing and was teetering on the edge of the parking structure.  It looked like the car could fall at any minute.  The only thing holding it was the undercarriage snagged on the torn metal railing.  Johnny and Roy grabbed the rear end of the car, putting their weight on it, trying to hold the back end down and stabilize the car.  Sam ran up to the drivers side of the car.  She carefully touched the metal railing trying not to be cut on it.  Sam looked in and could see that the driver was the only one in the car, but the car was so far forward that Sam couldn't even reach the car door handle without hanging dangerously over the side of the parking structure.  Captain Stanley called for Chet and Marco to grab ropes and to tie off the end of the car to the engine.  He had Mike pull the engine into position behind the car so that the ropes could be tied off to it.  The woman inside the car started to move.

 

     "Johnny, she's starting to come around," Sam said.

 

     The woman became more and more agitated and moving around even more.  "Ma'am.  Hold still.  Don't move!" Sam yelled.  "Ma'am, don't move!"

 

The car door opened and the woman began to turn.  The woman was extremely obese.  She was bleeding from a bump on her forehead above her left eye.  Her eyes looked dazed and she didn't seem to hear or understand what Sam was saying.  

 

     "MA'AM DONT MOVE!" Sam yelled.  "Stay There!"

 

     The woman swung her legs around and stepped out of the car as though she didn't realize where she was.  She started to fall.  "No!" Sam yelled.

 

     Sam moved quickly, and just like she did for Johnny months before, she snagged a hold of the woman's pants and belt.  Sam jerked forward with a grunt into the edge of the parking structure as she held on to the woman.  Johnny, Roy and Chet ran up to help pull the woman back up onto the parking deck.  The trio reached over around Sam and grabbed the semiconscious woman, pulling her up.  As they got her up Sam's hand slipped off the woman's belt.  Johnny, Roy, Chet and Marco carried the woman to a more open area near the trunk of the car and laid her down while Captain Stanley got the equipment out of the squad.  Sam was standing still at the edge of the parking deck.  She hadn't moved at all.  Captain Stanley saw her there facing away from all of them.  Based on the past few months it seemed unusual for her not to be a part of the action.  He walked over toward her.  "Sam?"  He said.

   

 Sam put her left hand on the edge of the parking structure.  She backed away and turned to look at Captain Stanley.  Sam had a vacant look in her eyes.  She looked down at her right side then back up to the Captain.  She didn't say a word and didn't have to.  Captain Stanley looked and saw that Sam was bleeding very Badly from her right side.  When Sam grabbed the woman, she was pulled into the ragged metal edge of the parking structure that was torn when the car hit it.  That metal sharp edge was like a knife that stabbed her right through the ribs and into her chest and abdomen.  Captain Stanley reached forward and grabbed Sam just as she started to collapse.  He eased her to the ground.  

 

     "Johnny," Stanley anxiously called.  Johnny heard the tone of his Captains voice and turned right away.  Seeing what was happening, he quickly moved to help Sam.  Her breathing was ragged and shallow.  Her lung was obviously punctured, her arm was at an odd angle and she was in a great deal of pain although she was unable to say it.  Sam looked up at Johnny in fear.  Johnny grabbed his scissors.  He ripped open her blue shirt and using the scissors, cut the side of the tank top he knew she always wore underneath.  He only cut as much as he needed to so he could maintain some of her dignity.  Johnny grabbed some large gauze pads, attempting to ease the bleeding some.  The ribs gave a little as he put some pressure on and Sam winced at the touch.  

 

     "Sorry," Johnny told her.  then he turned to Captain Stanley.  "Cap, can you get the oxygen on her?"

 

     Captain Stanley got the oxygen and put the mask on her face.  "Sam, look at me" he said.  Sam opened her eyes and looked at her Captain. "Your going to be all right.  Just hang in there."

 

     Sam seemed to be concentrating on Captains face.  She was working hard to keep calm and keep her breathing steady.  Captain Stanley smiled at her then got on the bio phone.  "Rampart, this is squad 51."

 

     "Go ahead 51," Dixie answered immediately.

 

     "Rampart, we have two victims.  Victim number one is a female, 23 years old."  He began to repeat back the information Johnny was providing him. "She has a large stabbing wound in her lower right lateral rib cage and upper right abdomen.  There are two to three broken ribs with this and a probable punctured lung.  Respiration is 30.  shallow, labored and gurgly.  There is Heavy bleeding.  Blood pressure is 80/60 and dropping.  Pulse is 125.  The victim is on 8 liters of O2.  Victim number one also has a broken right humerous above the elbow and a dislocated right shoulder.  Victim is semiconscious.  Rampart, the victim is Sam."

 

     Doctor Bracket, who was standing behind Dixie. Stepped forward to communicate with the squad.

 

  "Squad 51, start two IV's D5W, TKO.  Immobilize the arm and shoulder.  Get a red top 51 and get her in right away"  

 

     Johnny had already started preparing the IV's.  Sam didn't even flinch when she was stuck with the needle.  Her breathing was becoming more and more labored.  Johnny tried to keep looking her in the eyes.  "Stay with me Sam."

 

     Now Captain Stanley repeated back what Roy was telling him "The second victim is a female, mid thirties.  Obese.  She was involved in a traffic accident and has a bad bump on her fore head above her left eye.  She is semiconscious.  There is a sweet odor to her breath.  Pulse is 70.  Respiration a 25.  BP 125/80. "

 

     "Is the ambulance there yet 51?" Doctor Brackett asked?  

 

     "It just arrived" Stanley answered.  

 

     "Get them in here 51."

 

     Dr Brackett had a worried look on his face.  "Dix, get Joe and let him know what's happening.  Get some blood down here and line up some donors.  It sounds like Sam's going to need a blood transfusion.  We should have her blood type on file.   We're going to need an operating room for her too."

 

     "I'll get it taken care of," she told him.

 

     Sam and the victim were loaded into the ambulance, Johnny told Rampart, "ETA is 10 Minutes."  Then followed carrying the bio phone.  

 

     Roy was right behind Johnny with the drug box.  Al, Johnny, Sam and the Victim got in the back of the ambulance.  Roy shut the door behind them and slapped it so the driver would know to go.  The ambulance rushed to Rampart.  Roy stood behind for a moment and watched it drive away.  A pool of blood was on the ground where Sam was laying.  

 

     "Is she going to be ok?" Chet asked Roy as the ambulance drove away.

 

     "I don't know." Roy answered.

 

     The ambulance pulled into Rampart.  The ambulance door flew open and Al jumped out and started pulling Sam's Gurney out.  Johnny jumped out and followed along.  He held the oxygen mask on her face.  On the trip over he needed to insert an airway and was doing forced ventilation now.  They rushed past Dr. Early who was on the way to 51's other victim.  Sam was taken into the treatment room.  Sam was moved to the treatment table.  Dr. Morton came in and assisted with the ventilation.

 

     "Do you have the red top?"  Brackett asked Johnny.

 

     Johnny pulled the vile of blood from his pocket.  "I'll get this to the lab."

 

     Johnny went running down the hall to the lab.  Dixie did a blood pressure as Dr Brackett looked under the bandage to see the damage.  He made a face as he looked.  He was amazed at the amount of damage done and that she was still with them.  A nurse took over the ventilation and Dr. Morton was looking in Sam's eyes.  Dixie gave the blood pressure.  "Blood pressure is 50 by palpation, pulse is unreadable."

 

     "Let's get her to surgery" Brackett said.

 

     The whole crew of station 51 and Chief Sorenson was standing outside surgery waiting to hear the news from Dr. Brackett.  The surgery door opened and Dr. Brackett walked out.  Everyone stood up taller in anticipation and hope.  They looked at Brackett.      

 

     "Doc?" Johnny said.

 

     "She's alive." Brackett said.  "We're moving her to intensive care."

 

     "Is she going to be ok?" Marco asked.

 

     "Sam lost a lot of blood.  She's in critical condition," Brackett answered.  "Broken ribs, punctured lung, damage to the pancreas and kidney.  Right now I don't know if she will even live through the night.  I'm surprised that she even made it this far."

 

     All their faces just dropped in shock of what they just heard.  How could this person, so full of life who had stolen all their hearts be leaving this world.

 

     "I'm sorry guys," Brackett says.  "I wish I had better news for you.  Has Sam's family been notified?"

 

     Chief Sorenson answered.  "Sam's father was all she had and he passed away last year."

 

     "I guess we are the only family she really has," Captain Stanley said.

 

     Dixie and some orderlies wheeled Sam out of surgery past them all.  Dixie had a devastated look on her face.  Sam was on a respirator and looked white as a sheet.  She had a pint of blood hanging and Her arm was still in the splint that she came in with.  

 

     "Why is her arm still splinted?"  Mike asked.

 

     "Her arm is going to need to be surgically repaired and with everything she’s struggling with now, we don't want to put her through that," Brackett explained. 

 

     Doctor Brackett followed Dixie and Sam as they moved her down the hall to a room in intensive care.  The guys were all standing behind in the hall just watching them wheel her away.  Chief Sorenson was impressed that this girl that he allowed to be a part of this department had become such an important part of this teams crew in such a short time.  She was definitely not what he expected.

 

     It was a long night at Station 51.  Most of the time when there were no runs, the guys were normally happy for the quiet night to sleep.  But this night, no one was really sleeping anyway and would much rather have been busy to keep their mind off what they might learn in the morning.  Johnny and Roy knew all too well how devastating her injuries were.  Johnny dealt with losing his friend Drew, who bled to death just a couple years before.  Johnny rolled onto his side and whispered, "Roy.  Are you asleep?"

 

     Roy rolled over to face Johnny and whispered back.  "No.  I can't sleep."

 

     "Me neither.  Of all times to have a slow night."

 

     "Tell me about it," Roy agreed.

 

     "I was planning to head to the hospital as soon as my shift is over," Johnny said.  "But, I'm afraid of what I may find when we get there."

 

     "Me too."  Roy said.  

 

     "I keep finding myself trying to remember where my dress uniform is."

 

     They laid in their bunks, deep in thought.  "Roy," Johnny said.  "When I first saw Sam, I never thought she would make it this far."

 

     "Yeah.  Me too," Roy answered.  "She is just one surprise after another."

 

     "I was so afraid that I was going to lose her in the ambulance on the way in" Johnny confessed.  "She just stared at me.  I kept telling her to hang on.  Then when she went into respiratory arrest I thought I lost her."

 

     "She's pretty tough."  Roy smiled.

 

     "Roy, How did she even manage hang on to that woman as hurt as she was?  I mean, you know it had to hurt like hell."

 

     "I know," Roy said.  "I don't know how she did it either."

 

     "How is the woman by the way?" Johnny asked.

 

     "She going to be fine." Roy answered.  "She didn't realize that she was diabetic.  They are keeping her at Rampart for few days while they get her blood sugar level under control," 

 

     "That's good," Johnny answered.  "Sam will be happy to know that she's fine."

 

     Roy nodded in agreement.  "I met the victims husband at Rampart.  He wouldn't leave his wife's side."

 

    "I keep thinking.  I hate thinking of Sam being in the hospital all alone."  Johnny said.

 

    Chet chimed in.  "She won't be alone very long.  I was talking to Cap, Mike and Marco earlier.

 

 We're talking about setting up shifts to spend time with her.  That way she won't be alone."

 

     Johnny and Roy smiled at the idea.  "Hey Chet" Johnny asked, "did you ever get all the baby powder out of your hair?"

 

     "Yeah, Finally." Chet answered.  "It kept clumping up when I tried to wash it."

 

     Johnny and Roy laughed quietly.  Even Chet had to smile.

 

     "What time is it anyway?"  Johnny asked.

 

     "It's almost 2am," Marco called out.

 

     "Can we try to get some sleep?" Captain Stanley called over from his bunk.

 

     "Sorry Cap, Marco, Chet and Johnny said together.

 

     Johnny and Roy laid back and looked at the ceiling.  "Johnny.  Don't worry.  Sam is young and strong." Roy said.  "She has the best doctors at Rampart caring for her.  We can't give up on her yet."

 

     Johnny sighed.  "Your right Roy."

 

     Both Johnny and Roy tried to get a few hours of sleep.  But as tired as they were sleep just wouldn't come.  They spent the night just staring at the ceiling, hoping that the phone wouldn't ring.  The only reason the phone would ring that late at night would be with bad news.  As worried as they were, exhaustion finally overtook Johnny and he fell into a fitful sleep.  He began to dream.  

 

     Johnny was a child, sick and in the hospital near the reservation where he grew up.  He was about 6 years old.  Johnny laid in his sickbed, miserable and having trouble breathing.  He was sick with pneumonia.  He was surrounded by disinterested doctors and cruel nurses.  His parents were sitting by his bed side.  Johnny's mother held his hand and was smiling.  His Dad was standing behind his Mom.    

  

     "How you doing sport?" Johnny's Dad said.  Johnny looked up and smiled at them.

 

     All of a sudden Johnny's parents started to be pulled back away from his bed.  His Mother was screaming "Johnny!" as her hand slipped from him.  They continued to be pulled further and further away.  Their faces were replaced by the cruelest nurse from Johnny's memory.  

 

     Johnny woke with a start.  He looked around for a minute before he realized that he was safely on his bunk in the dorm at station 51.  He looked over to see Roy and Chet sleeping soundly.  Johnny got up out of bed and pulled on his pants.  He walked into the kitchen and got a glass of milk.  Johnny went out the back door and looked up at the dark night sky.  The stars were shining brightly.  The sky just started to get red in the East as the sun began to rise.  It was just barely dawn.  Maybe 5am.  Roy came through the door and stood next to Johnny.  He was yawning and rubbing his eyes.

 

     "I thought I heard you get up," Roy said.  "Did you try calling the hospital?". 

 

     "No, not yet." Johnny answered.  "I figure no news is good news."

 

     "Yeah."  Roy agreed.  

 

    Johnny took another gulp of milk as the sun began to rise higher and higher into the sky.  He seemed to be deep in thought.   "Roy.  The thought of losing her.  I... I didn't realize how much she meant to me.  I've never met a girl like Sam before".

 

     "She is something,"  Roy agreed.

 

     "I don't think I'm going to get any more sleep tonight.  I'll get the coffee going," Johnny said.

 

     He finished his milk then went back inside and began to brew a pot of coffee.  The others would be awake in an another hour or so and he planned to head straight  to the hospital as soon as his shift ended.  Johnny didn't plan to leave Sam alone.  Roy followed Johnny inside and helped him brew the coffee.  As Johnny and Roy worked on the coffee, the others started to wander into the rec room.

     "I didn't think anyone would be sleeping too long this morning," Captain Stanley said.    

   

     Marco grabbed a few cups and placed them on the table so everyone could have coffee.  The phone began to ring.  It was still very early in the morning.  A call this early couldn't be good.

 

 Everyone froze where they were.  They looked at Captain Stanley as he slowly stood to answer the phone.

 

     "Station 51, Captain Stanley.  Hi doctor Brackett."  Captain Stanley paused to listen to what he was being told.  "I understand.  When?  Ok, I'll let everyone know.  Thanks Doctor Brackett."

 

     Captain Stanley hung up the phone.  He sat down at the table.  Johnny stared at him.  Johnny was pale.  They all feared the worst.  Everyone was so quiet they could have heard a mouse.  

    

     "That was Dr. Brackett," Captain Stanley explained.

 

     "Sam?" Marco asked.

 

     "She's still with us."  Everyone started to breathe again  "Dr. Brackett said she needs O negative blood.  He wanted anyone who is O negative to come in.  I'll give Chief Sorenson a call and see if we can get a good group in there for her."

 

     "Thanks Cap," Roy said.

 

     Captain Stanley poured a cup of coffee and took it into his office so he could begin making some phone calls.  Johnny sat at the table and put his head in his hands.  Roy came up behind him and put his hand on Johnny's back.  

 

     Johnny sat in the dark quiet hospital room.  He was sipping some orange juice and nibbling on a cookie.  The only sound was the monitors beeping a steady heart rate.  Sam laid in the hospital bed sleeping.  Blankets were wrapped around her and the still splinted arm was propped up just a bit on a pillow.  An oxygen mask was over her face and a unit of Johnny's blood dripped to her from the bag hanging from the IV stand.  Sam looked much better than she did the night before.  There was more color in her face and she was breathing much easier.  Dixie came into the room.  She checked the pulse and blood pressure.  Johnny looked up at Dixie with concern.  Dixie smiled.  "Her blood pressure is up and she's breathing better."

 

     Sam shifted weakly in bed.  She turned her head to the voices.  Sam opened her eyes and blinked a couple times trying to focus her eyes.  She saw Johnny sitting there.  He smiled at her and moved forward so he could look her in the eyes.  "Welcome back Sam," he said.  "Just take it easy and rest.  You've been badly hurt."

 

     Sam looked up and saw the liter of blood then looked back at Johnny.  Dixie came back in with Doctor Brackett.  Brackett smiled when he saw that Sam was awake.  Dixie saw Johnny sway a little as he stood back to let Dr. Brackett in.  "Johnny, you better sit down and drink a little more of your juice," Dixie said.

 

     Johnny sat back in the chair and began drinking his juice again.

 

     "Johnny?" Sam questioned quietly.  

 

     "Don't worry about him," Dr Brackett said.  "Johnny gave blood for you this morning.  In fact, there’s quite a few people who are going to have to take it a little easy today.  You have quite a following Sam."

 

     Sam sleepily closed her eyes and drifted back off to sleep.  Brackett stepped back and looked at Johnny.  "She's doing better Johnny".  

 

     "What about her arm?". Johnny asked.

 

     "Well, as soon as we get her a bit more stable we can take care of that arm.  Probably by tomorrow if she continues to improve,"  Brackett answered.

 

     Dr. Brackett and Dixie started to leave the room.  Brackett looked back to see Johnny scoot his chair closer to the bed.  He reached out to hold Sam's hand and talked to her quietly as she drifted back to sleep.  Dixie looked at Dr. Brackett.  "Kel, did you tell him?"  He looked back at Johnny & Sam and answered.  "I don't need to.  Johnny knows."

 

     Johnny did know.  He knew that even though Sam managed to survive the night her chances weren't good.  With the severity of her injuries, complications were likely.  And, as weak as she was right now, any complication she did develop would most likely be deadly.  Johnny also knew that as hard as he worked to protect himself from being hurt, he was losing his heart to this beautiful young woman.

 

 

     It was white everywhere.  Large snowdrifts were up against every house.  Snow began to fall lightly all around.  A beautiful woman with long brown hair stepped onto the porch of a small house.  She pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders.  She looked all around then began to yell.  "sa...man...tha!  Sa...man...tha!"

 

     A young girl about 5 years old came running up to the woman.  The little girl was all bundled in a snow suit.  The little one climbed up the stairs to the front door where the woman stood.  She coughed a little into her hand, then let out a small sneeze.  The woman, obviously her mother, squatted down and looked into the face of the young child.  "Samantha Jean, I don't know how you talked me into letting you go out and play today.  Listen to you.  You sound awful."

 

    "I'm ok Mama," little Samantha sniffly said.

 

    The woman took the hand of her little one and led her into the house.  She unzipped the girls coat and began to unbundle her.  The little ones face was bright red and she sniffed a little as her mother pulled the mittens off her hands.  The mother put her hand on the girls forehead.  "Honey, you are burning up with fever," the mother said.  "Get upstairs.  I'll be up in a minute with some warm tea and draw you a bath."

 

    The mother kissed Samantha on the head and gave her a gentle swat on the rear to move her along.  Samantha coughed and sniffled again.  Samantha stopped and looked at her momma standing there.  Her mother smiled at her then turned and walked through the swinging door into the kitchen.

 

     "I love you little one," mother said.  "Now off you go."

    

     Sam started to wake a bit.  She opened her eyes and looked around.  "I'm ok Mama," Sam drowsily said.  

 

     Chet was sitting in the chair next to her bed reading a book.  He looked over at Sam and saw her starting to stir.  He heard her talking quietly.  Sam gently coughed a bit.  She had a slight irritating rattle in her chest.  Chet stood up and put his book down in the chair he was sitting on.

 

     "Sam?  How are you doing honey?"  Chet said.

 

     Chet could hear the rattle as Sam was breathing.  He reached down and brushed the hair off her forehead.  She felt hot.  Chet pushed the nurse call button.    The nurse on duty rushed in right away.  "Is something wrong she said?"  

 

     "She feels hot and isn't breathing very well," Chet explained.

 

     The nurse came in and felt her forehead. She agreed that Sam felt hot. "I'll call Dr. Brackett," she said.

 

    The nurse put a thermometer in Sam's mouth and took her pulse.  Chet stood back and watched what was going on.  She took the thermometer out of Sam's mouth turned on the oxygen and put the mask over Sam's face.  Then she picked up the phone next to the bed and called Dr. Brackett.  When he came on the line a moment later she gave him the information.  "Dr. Brackett, her temperature is 104.  Pulse is 75.  She is having some trouble breathing, I just started her on O2.". The nurse paused for a minute to listen to what the doctor was explaining.  "Ok," she said, then went running out of the room to get the supplies she needed.  

 

     Chet went back to Sam's bedside.  She looked up at him.  "So cold," she said.  

 

     Chet pulled the blanket up to her chin and said, "Hang in there.  Your going to be all right."

 

     The nurse came back into the room.  She put the cool towels behind Sam's neck then put a bag of antibiotics into her IV port.  Sam gently coughed and grimaced as the stitches and broken ribs shifted with the movement.  "Chet.  Hurts," Sam said.

 

     "I know it hurts," he acknowledged.  "You were just given some medicine.  You'll be feeling better soon."

 

     Sam's eyes began to close.  Sleep was overtaking her again.

 

     Samantha was laying in bed.  She looked up at her mother.  Samantha's mother brushed the hair on her forehead.   Samantha's mother pulled up the blankets up under the little girls chin.  She gave her a kiss on the forehead.  "Now, you go right to sleep you little monkey," she said.

 

     "Mama," Sam said.  "Vinnie said that he was going to fireman when he grows up." 

 

     Samantha's mother smiled at her.  "That's a wonderful idea.  Being a firefighter is a very nobel profession."

 

     "Mama, I want to be a fireman too," Samantha explained, "but Vinnie said that girls can't be firemen."

 

     Samantha's mother looked down with determination in her face.  "Samantha Jean, if you really want to fight fires when you grow up, then you should do just that," Samantha's mother explained.  "You will have to work hard, but you can do whatever you set your mind to.  Just never give up."

   

     Johnny was sound asleep in his apartment.  His arm covered his face.  The phone started ringing on the night stand next to his bed and Johnny jumped with the sound.  He rolled over, turned on the light and answered the phone.  "Hello," Johnny said.  

 

     Johnny paused to listen for a few moments to listen to the person on the line.  "Ok Chet, I'll be right there," he said.

 

     Johnny swung his feet over the side of the bed.  He put his head in his hands.

 

     Sam was laying unconscious on the bed with the ventilator on.  She was now unable to breathe on her own.  Chet was sitting in the chair next to the bed.  He hadn't left her side since his shift began several hours ago.  Four days ago, they all agreed that since Station 51 was really the only family she had, they wouldn't leave Sam alone.  The men on all three shifts were so taken with her during the few months that she was training, that they all agreed to take shifts sitting with her so she would never be alone.  Chet had been trying to read his book and keep himself distracted from what he saw happening to the girl before him that everyone seemed to care so much for.  Chet found himself re-reading the same page over and over again.  He just couldn't concentrate.  So much had happened in the short time since he called Johnny.  Chet looked up when Johnny walked in.  Johnny looked over at Sam.  Looking at her, he felt like he had been punched in the stomach.  A second IV now started, cooling blankets covered her, and the sounds of the ventilator and the heart monitor echoed in the room.  Sam's now repaired and casted arm was propped on a small pillow to protect her injured ribs and side.  Propped just enough to avoid straining the damaged shoulder.  It was an awful sight that broke Johnny's heart.  "How's she doing Chet?"  Johnny asked.

 

     "Not too good Johnny," Chet explained.  "I thought we lost her.  She has a temperature of 105.5.  Dr. Brackett said that she has developed pneumonia.  She went into respiratory arrest so they put her on the ventilator.  She already coded once too.  Dr. Brackett is so worried, he's sleeping in the room two doors down."

 

    Johnny looked at Sam, really worried.  "Chet, you go ahead and get some sleep.  I'll stay with Sam the rest of the night."

 

     "Johnny, call me if..."  Chet couldn't finish the thought let alone the sentence.

 

     "I will Chet," Johnny said.  "I'll see you in a couple hours."

 

     Chet left the room.  Johnny took Chet's place in the chair.  He for once didn't know what to do.  He sat in the chair and just talked to her.  "Sam, don't you give up.  Your gonna be all right."

 

     Johnny was so afraid of what this night may bring.  He let so few people into his heart.  Johnny let Roy and his family in.  He never really intended to let in anyone else.  But Sam with all that was so special about her pried his heart open like a portapower and now he was afraid that it would be broken again.  There was nothing he could do.  He felt so helpless, just like he did when he was a child.  When his parents died.  Johnny was used to being independent; to not need anyone.  It seemed that Sam shared his independent streak.  Johnny didn't know how he would be able to concentrate on his next shift a few hours away.  But Charlie and the others from B shift would be here with her.  They wouldn't leave her alone.  And Johnny knew they wouldn't hesitate to call the station with updates.

 

     Sam was in full fire gear and carrying hose up the training stairs.  Vinnie was running up the stairs just in front of her carrying his own equipment.  Sam stumbled and fell forward in the stairway.  Vinnie turned around and looked at her. "Are you gonna give up?"  Vinnie screamed.  

 

     "No!"  Sam screamed back.  Tears of anger, exhaustion and frustration were streaming down her face.

 

     "Then get your ass in gear and get up these stairs.  You need to be able to protect your own butt and mine.  If you can't do that then drop your hose and go home."

 

     Sam looked up.  She was really mad at Vinnie.  He always knew just how to get under her skin.  Sam was hot, sweaty, her shin hurt and she was bleeding from where she hit her shin on the edge of the step.  Vinnie could tell that he had made her pretty mad.  He accomplished his goal.  He knew she could do it, but she needed to push herself past her limit.  She was at her limit now and so close to reaching her goal.  Vinnie's push was all she needed.  Sam stubbornly picked up the coil of hose.   "Move out of my way Ass hole," She said.

 

     Sam stood up and pushed past Vinnie almost pushing him over.  She continued to climb up the stairs.  She would have stomped up the stairs, if only she wasn't already so hot and tired.

 

     "You need to be able to do this on your own.  I'm not always going to be here to kick your butt," Vinnie yelled to her as she ran upstairs.  He picked up his own coil of hose and continued climbing himself.  "Sam, you need to be strong enough on your own," Vinnie called up to her as he continued to follow her up the stairs.  She reached the top of the stairs and opened the door.  The sunlight streamed through blinding her.  Suddenly Sam's father appeared.  It was Spring.  Graduation day from the fire academy.  Sam's father was smiling at her.  He was tall and slender.  He had dark hair and the rugged build of a man who spent a lot of time outdoors.  She was standing before him in her dress uniform.  "I am so proud of you Samantha," her father said.  "I always knew that you were strong enough to do anything you set your mind to.  You are just like your mother.  You never give up."

 

The  drugs that Dr. Brackett had been giving Sam had finally started to work.  Sam was breathing much easier.  Her temperature had started to come down too.  Sam's dreams, her memories were haunting.  Sam's sleep was broken by those dreams and the fever she had been fighting for so long.  Sam began to stir.  She looked around the darkened room.  She couldn't tell if it was day or night.  Sam felt the uncomfortable oxygen mask she had over her face.  She looked up to see an IV and antibiotic in her arm.  Sam turned her head and looked over to see someone was asleep in the chair next to her bed.  Sam reached up to pull the mask off her face.  The person in the chair moved forward grabbing her hand to protect the IV.  

 

     "Daddy?" She whispered. 

 

     Sam's voice was scratchy and her throat was so dry and sore.   

 

     "Sam.  Take it easy," Johnny said.

 

     Sam looked up at Johnny.  She blinked a couple times to focus and became more aware of where she was and remembered what happened.  She realized that it wasn't her father that she saw sitting in the chair.  She was disappointed it wasn't her father, but happy that Johnny was there.  "Johnny?" She said.

 

     "I'm here Sam," he said.  "How are you feeling?"

 

     "Hurts," she said.

 

     "What hurts Sam," Johnny asked.

 

     "My throat," She squeaked.

 

     Sam swallowed with some difficulty and blinked to clear some of the cobwebs from her mind.  Johnny brushed the hair from her forehead.  Her fever seemed to have finally broken.  He was relieved to feel such a difference in the temperature.  

 

     "You're a lot cooler now.  I think your fever finally broke," Johnny said.  

 

     He pushed the nurse call button and a moment later the intensive care nurse came into the room.  Johnny looked over as she walked in.  "Look who's awake," he said.  "Can you let Dr. Brackett know?"

 

     The nurse smiled.  "I'll find him," She said, and went to track down Dr. Brackett to let him know the good news.  

 

     Johnny grabbed the pitcher of water next to Sam's bed.  He poured a small glass of ice water, put a straw in it, removed Sam's oxygen mask and put his hand behind her back to help Sam sit up so she could take a sip of the cool water.  

 

     "Here, this will help," Johnny said.  "That ventilator has a tendency to irritate the throat.  It'll get better."

 

     Sam sipped a small amount and roughly swallowed it down.  The cool water did help a little but her throat remained very irritated.  Johnny set the cup back on the night side table and lowered her back to the bed.  Sam felt so very weak that she could barely move.  She couldn't understand how she could feel so weak.  Dr. Brackett and Dixie came in with a smile.  "It's nice to see you finally awake," he said.  "How are you feeling?"

 

     "She’s complaining of a sore throat," Johnny answered for her.

 

     Dr. Brackett smiled.  "That’s to be expected with all you've been through.  Let's take a listen to those lungs."  

 

     Dr Bracket pulled the blanket down to Sam's waist and used his stethoscope to listen quietly on each side.  As he did that, Dixie put the thermometer in Sam's mouth to take her temperature.  Sam looked down and noticed the cast from her hand past her elbow.  It was covered with signatures.  Dr. Brackett smiled.  "Sounds clear," he said.  "And you're much cooler too."

 

     He pulled the blanket back up to make sure that Sam was tucked in and warm.  Dixie helped to tuck Sam in from the other side.  When she was sure than Sam was comfortable, Dixie took the thermometer out of her mouth and read the results to Dr. Brackett.  "Her temperature is 98.7."

 

     Both Johnny and Dr. Brackett smiled like proud parents at the continued good news.  "You have had us all pretty worried about you," Dixie said.

 

     "How is she?" Sam questioned.  Dixie looked to Johnny and Dr. Brackett, not quite sure what Sam was talking about but Johnny knew right away.

 

     "She's fine," he answered.  "She was released about two weeks ago."

 

     With Johnny's answer, Dixie and Dr. Brackett  understood what she was asking.  But Sam looked at him, confused.  "Two weeks?  How long have I..." Sam cleared here throat a bit.  

 

     Johnny grabbed the cup of water and helped Sam take another small sip, then laid her back again.  "You've been in here for a little more than three weeks," Johnny explained.  "A few days after you were hurt you developed pneumonia."

 

     "You almost died," Dixie added.

 

     "It was so close I took my dress uniform to the cleaners," Johnny said.

 

     "Three weeks," Sam said.  "No wonder I'm so hungry."

 

     Everyone laughed at that comment.  "I'll have something brought in for you," Dr. Brackett said.

     "And  I have a few phone calls to make," Dixie said.  "Sam, you have developed quite a following.  You haven't been alone in here since the night you arrived.  I'm sure the guys will all be glad to know the vigil is over with a happy ending."

 

     Dixie and Dr. Brackett, left the room.   Johnny sat back down in the chair next to her bed.  Sam took a good look at him.  Johnny looked so tired from the many nights that he had sat by her side.

 

 But a look of complete relief was on his face.  "I'm really glad you’re better," Johnny said.

 

     "Thank you," Sam quietly said.

 

     "For what?" He asked.

 

     "For being here with me," she answered.

 

     Johnny smiled.  "It was my pleasure," he said.  "I really was worried about you.  The night we brought you in, Dr. Brackett said he didn't expect you to live through the night let alone get to this point."  He smiled.  "I guess when it comes to you we need to always expect the unexpected."

 

   Johnny reached  into his pocket and pulled out a small jewelry box.  "Oh, I have something for you."

 

 Johnny grabbed the bed controls and helped Sam to move into more of a sitting position.  Then he opened the jewelry Box and showed  Sam what was inside.  It was a paramedic pin.  "That day you were hurt.  When we were all meeting.  It was unanimously decided to refer you for certification.

 

 Since you were in here, you missed the graduation ceremony.  I picked up your pin for you.  After all, you earned it."

 

     Sam looked at the pin in the box.  The pin she worked so hard to earn.  The emotions and exhaustion got to her and tears began to stream down her face.  She mouthed 'Thank You' to Johnny.  He smiled and mouthed back to her, 'Your welcome'.  Johnny took a tissue from the box next to the bed and helped wipe away the tears from her face.  The nurse brought in a tray of food.  Jello and broth.  Johnny sat on the side of the bed and helped to feed Sam those jiggly little jello cubes.

     

    Later that day Sam was moved out of intensive care and into a regular room.  A week later Sam was headed home.  All the Guys got together to make sure Sam had a good homecoming.  Her landlord let them into her apartment and they went through it, cleaning house, throwing away the chunky milk and putting fresh groceries in the kitchen.  Joann even made Sam a casserole so she had some simple meals as she continued her recovery at home.  Chet and Marco hung a welcome home banner across the soffett in the kitchen for her.  Johnny made sure she was released when he was off duty.  Sam would need some help for at least the first few days that she was home.  Johnny walked Sam slowly from the parking lot to her apartment.  Her arm was still casted and she wore a sling to protect her shoulder.  She was thinner and moved gently.  Sam leaned on Johnny as she climbed the few steps and Johnny opened the front door so she could go inside.  Sam was shocked by the banner.  It brought a huge smile to her face.  Johnny helped Sam to gently sit down on the sofa, then went into the kitchen to make sure that everything was cleaned up and put away.  

 

     "We knew you wouldn't be able to get to the store so we took the liberty to stock your kitchen a little for you," Johnny explained.  "You have some fresh milk, yogurt, fruit cereal and anything else you should need for at least a few days."

 

     Sam picked up the bag that she brought back from the hospital.  She started to dig through, looking for something.  She stopped and just stared at what she found.  Her torn and bloody uniform shirt was in the bag.  The badge and name tag still attached.  She just held it and for the first time realized how close she had come to losing her life.  Johnny didn't realize the uniform hadn't been thrown away.  He saw that she was holding it and it was obviously emotional for her.  Johnny walked over and sat right next to her on the couch.  "I'm sorry, I thought they had thrown that shirt away," he said.  "Sam, are you ok?" 

Sam continued to look down at the shirt she held in her hands.  "I'm fine.  Just..."  she said.  He interrupted, "I know."

 

     Sam turned and put her head on Johnny's shoulder.  He put his arms around her and held her for a moment.  She felt warm and safe.  This was something that Sam hadn't felt for a very long time.  For Johnny, he had been on many dates with many girls.  He often held and hugged them. But this was different.  To him it was deeper.  He felt a spark and could only hope that it was something that she felt too.  Johnny knew that her recovery at home was just starting and the coming home part was going to be the most exhausting.  At this point, he needed to make sure that she had the time and rest she needed to recover.  "Now, let’s get you to bed so you can get some rest," Johnny said.  

    

     "I've spent so much time in a hospital bed," Sam said.  "Could we just sit here for a while?"

 

     Johnny paused to think for a second,  "Sure," he answered.

 

     The two of them leaned back and put their feet up on the coffee table.  They just sat and Sam rested the afternoon away in Johnny's arms.

 

The End

 

Posted to Site 10/21/13

   

 

     

 

     

   

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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