Batter Up!

By Audrey W.



Man, how am I gonna get out of this? John Gage thought to himself as he drove into the parking lot of an apartment building where his latest love interest lived. He’d only met the twenty-one-year-old petite blonde ten days earlier, but after two dates he didn't think he could make it through a third one.


He thought back to how she’d seemed to be the ideal girl. Sweet, sensitive, beautiful, fun, intelligent, beautiful. . .


She was so *perfect*. . .


Their first meeting had been magical. She was in the checkout line at the grocery store behind him and when he’d come up a dime short for his purchase, she had come to his rescue with the needed coin. The moment he saw the sparkle in her big blue eyes, he knew he was hooked.


Eyes. . .Who’d've ever thought a person’s eyes could play such an important role in a relationship.


Eyes. . .those big beautiful blue. . . After finding a spot to park in, he peered up at her second-floor apartment door through the windshield and shuddered.


Well, I got myself into this, I guess I can get myself out of it. . .


The only problem was, he hadn't found out there was a problem with the girl until he told her he was a fire fighter/paramedic and invited her to the Firemen's Valentines Day Ball while on their first date; the event they'd be at in just over a week if he didn't break off the relationship soon. He wished he could ask for advice from his on-duty partner Roy DeSoto or even the captain in charge of their shift, Hank Stanley. But he wasn't sure they knew anymore about women than he did, despite the fact they were both married. It really didn't matter anyway. He couldn't bring himself to admit to them that he had met a 'winner'. He'd only known Roy for just short of two years, and the captain even less than that.


Gage picked up the small bouquet he'd bought; pink and white carnations wrapped in light green tissue paper that he hoped would soften the 'break-up'. With the flowers in hand, he climbed out of his white Land Rover and headed toward the building. Once at the door, Johnny heaved a deep sigh and knocked.


Well . . . here goes. . .




Johnny strode into the locker room at the station and headed straight for his locker, stepping over the bench in front of it out of habit. The dark-haired paramedic didn't even take notice of the engine crew members in the room eyeing him.


"Good morning to you too," Chet Kelly stated sarcastically. When he didn't get a response, he glanced at Marco Lopez beside him and raised an eyebrow before directing his attention back to Gage. "Do we detect a sour mood?"


Having taken off his civilian shirt, the paramedic pulled his light blue uniform one from his locker. "You'd be in a sour mood, too, if you had to do what I did yesterday."


"What'd you do?" Marco wondered.


"Nothin' I wanna talk about."


Chet's mouth dropped open, then closed as he shook his head and stepped closer, putting a hand on Johnny's right shoulder. "John, John, John. . .haven't you learned yet that you use us as a sounding board? That we're all in this world together through thick and thin? That--"


"That that's enough," Johnny interrupted. "Chet, I really don't wanna talk about it."


"But you have to!"


A questioning look from Gage had him explaining. "You can't just walk in here and mention something like that, then say you don't wanna talk about it."


Tucking in his buttoned shirt, Johnny asked, "Why not?"


Chet glanced over his shoulder at Lopez, then forward again. "Because Marco'll be going on and on about it all day, wondering what you're hiding."


Johnny grinned as he stepped out of his jeans. "Oh, Marco will, will he?" He looked at the other fireman. "Sorry, Marco, you're just gonna hafta' let it go," he said with a knowing wink. Gage was well aware of who was really curious.


Marco shook his head as he eyed Chet. He'd worked with him long enough to know what to expect from him.


Still determined to crack the mystery, Kelly gave the situation more thought. "Hey, this wouldn't be anything to do with problems getting a date for the Firemen's Ball, would it? I mean, surely being the chick magnet that you are , you'd have them lined up and waiting."


Tying his second shoe, his right foot up on the bench, Johnny answered, "Ha! Trust me, Chet, that's not the problem at all. Not at all."


"Sounds like you're trying to convince yourself if you ask me."


The paramedic gave a disgusted look, them rolled his eyes as he headed for the door leading to the apparatus bay. "Keep tryin'. The more you guess, the more you're likely to get it wrong."


Chet and Marco stood staring at the door after Johnny left the room. After a few seconds the two exchanged a glance.


"I'm gonna find out what it is if it kills me."


It was Marco's turn to roll his eyes. It was going to be a case of stubborn against determined, and he had a feeling which would come out on top.




After roll call, Johnny eyed his partner as they checked over the supplies and equipment of the squad. He was squatting down, verifying the contents of the drug box, while Roy looked through the trauma box.


Johnny still couldn't bring himself to mention the problem with the girl. What was done, was done, and he was just going to have to live with it. He almost had himself convinced, but as they were placing the boxes back in the compartments, he couldn't keep his thoughts to himself any longer.


"Roy, does Joanne have any annoying habits?"


The senior paramedic smiled. "That depends."


"On what?"


"If you ask her . . . or me."


"Well, I don't see her in here," Johnny stated with a wave of his right arm as he glanced around the area.


Roy closed the compartment door and studied his partner a moment. "What brought this up, anyway?"


"Nothin'. I was just wonderin'."


"Uh huh. . . "


"Okay, so there's an agenda to my question." Johnny leaned with his left shoulder resting on the squad. "I just had to do the hardest thing I've ever done in my life with a chick yesterday, and I can't believe I went through with it."


Roy stood with his mouth slightly open as if he wanted to ask for more to go on, but wasn't sure he really should ask.


Maybe I don't want to know after all. . .


He waited a few seconds longer, still pondering if he really wanted the details, then proceeded. "If it's anything to do with trying a new position, I don't wanna get involved."


Johnny couldn't help but display a shocked look. "Roy! No, it's not to do with that. Geez, man. . .I can't believe you even brought that up."


"Well, maybe if you'd quit beating around the bush, I could be of some help."


Johnny glanced around once more to make sure they were alone, then leaned in closer to DeSoto. He lowered his voice as he explained. "I met this girl. . .real cute, mind you. Real cute. Damn near perfect."


"Except I take it she's not."


"Oh, Roy, you don't know the half of it."


"I get the feeling I never will . . ."


Johnny scowled slightly at the comment before continuing. "It all started about eleven days ago. I was in the check-out line at the supermarket and I came up a dime short. This beautiful petite blonde chick was behind me and gave me the ten cents I needed. And when our eyes met. . ." he shuddered, eliciting a raised eyebrow from his partner. "When our eyes met and I saw the sparkle in hers, I was hooked."


"What's this got to do with yesterday?"


Johnny pushed off the squad with his shoulder, his brow furrowed. "I'm gettin there."


"I can't wait."


"Look, sarcasm isn't gonna make this any easier."


"Maybe not for you. . ."


Ignoring the remark, Gage went on. "Anyway, I took her out on a date and things were going so well, I asked her to the Firemen's Valentines Day Ball right after I told her I was a paramedic with the fire department. And I don't know if she's got a thing for firemen or just me, but since then she's had this annoying habit of batting her eyes at me all the time. It's all I can do to keep my eyelashes still when she does it. "


Roy couldn't help but smile. "Are you getting to yesterday yet?"


"Sure. To make a long story short, I went to her place to break up. I even took her flowers to make it easier on her."


"That must've been very hard if you were trying to spare her feelings."


"Actually, I never could do it. The worst thing about yesterday was that I went out on the third date with her and she's still all excited about the ball." With a look of misery on his face, he finished. "I kept our date for that too."


"Well, look at the bright side. She seems like a nice girl."


 Johnny's eyes widened in disbelief. "Nice. . .? Roy--" He cut himself off and muttered in a defeated tone, "I knew you wouldn't understand."


"Well, if the worst thing she does is bat her eyes. . ."


"Every time she looks at me, Roy. Every . . .time."


"I don't think you're giving this girl enough credit. She was willing to help you out in a small crisis, wasn't she?"


"I'd hardly call it a crisis."


"Still, she helped you out." After a slight pause he asked. "What's her name?"


"Charity. Charity Price."


Suddenly a snicker sounded from the other side of the engine and Chet Kelly soon emerged around the front end. "A chick named Charity leant you money in a pinch?" Seeing that the other two weren't laughing, he asked, "Am I the only one who sees the humor in this?" He then fluttered his lashes, saying, "Oh Johnny," in a high pitched voice, his hands together under his chin. It was more than obvious that  he'd heard the whole conversation.


"Chet, hasn't anyone ever told you its rude to eavesdrop?"


The fireman grinned at Gage's comment, lowering his hands. "Probably, but I'm sure I wasn't listening by the time they did."


The paramedic sighed. Things weren't going to get any easier now. Why'd I even say anything. . .




A few minutes after their conversation had ended, the paramedics were sent out on a response for a possible heart attack victim at a local store. Gage was less than thrilled with the address.


"Great  . . . the place that started it all."


"You mean this is the store where you met Charity?"


Johnny nodded. "The very same."


Roy shook his head. Only Johnny . . . He watched a car ahead pull off to the side to get out of their way.




When they arrived at the scene, the paramedics were escorted to the aisle with cereal and snack foods. Johnny couldn't help but glance around as they followed behind the teen who was a bagger at the store and sent by the manager to greet them. Gage half expected to see Charity fluttering her lashes at him as he passed by various aisles and checkout lanes. He was relieved to be wrong.


Once with the victim, Johnny and Roy set their equipment down and knelt on either side of him. Gage gave a reassuring smile while Roy talked to the elderly man.


"How're you feeling?"


"Not. . .so. . .hot. . ."


Johnny noticed the other shoppers encroaching, and put up his hands to signal for them to move back. "Can all of you please give us some room? It would be better for him if you stayed back."


The small crowd did as requested, except for the store manager. "Is George going to be okay?"


"We'll do what we can to make sure of it," the younger paramedic promised.


"But when will a doctor take over? I thought you guys had a way of getting in touch with one."


"We're going to have a doctor on the other end of the line here shortly," Johnny said as he motioned toward the biophone.


"Okay. His wife would never forgive me if anything happened to him because I didn't get him to a doctor right away."


"His wife?" Gage looked around while Roy continued working on the patient. "Where is she?"


"Probably at the beauty parlor down the street. George shops strictly by coupons from the Sunday newspaper. . .buys things whether they need 'em or not. . . and it drives her crazy. So she does other stuff while he takes care of this. I sent one of my employees out to look for her, but she hasn't come back yet."


"Well, don't worry. He's in good hands. Just let us know if she makes it while we're here. Otherwise she'll need to know we'll be taking him to Rampart General Hospital."






A short time later, the paramedics were ready to transport the victim. Fortunately his wife was located and had been there going on and on about how George could save them more money of he just bought what they needed instead of buying things just because he had a coupon; that his stress over the crazy idea had caught up with him.


Though one would expect her to sound annoyed, both Johnny and Roy detected an adoration in her tone. It was clear that differences of opinion or not, these two were genuinely dear to one another.


After helping to get George into the ambulance, Johnny climbed into the driver's side of the squad, ready to follow behind. As he gave the coupon situation more thought, he realized something.


Man, if I'da had coupons when *I* was shopping here, I would've never come up a dime short. . .and I'd've never needed any help from. . .Charity. He let out a low groan as he recalled Chet snickering earlier.




After getting a few supplies filled, Johnny leaned on Dixie's desk near the base station while he waited for Roy to come out of Treatment Room Two. Though George hadn't had any complications on the way to the hospital, he'd been distraught that some of his coupons would expire before he was a 'free man' again. Thus Roy had decided he was going to stay in the treatment room a little longer than usual in hopes of providing some moral support to the elderly man. His wife was yet to arrive at the hospital, having wanted to make a few phone calls to relatives before leaving the store.


The dark-haired paramedic eyed his favorite head nurse while she worked on the next schedule for the personnel she supervised. Furrowing his brow, he asked, "Dix, you think there's anything to a name?"


Without taking her eyes off her project, she questioned in return, "What do you mean?"


"Oh, I don't know. . .say a person is named. . .oh. . .Charity."


"A hypothetical name?"


"Sorta. What would you expect a person with that name to be like?"


Dixie looked up at him and smiled. "It's not hypothetical, is it."


With a sigh, he shook his head. "No. I wish it was."


"Don't tell me Charity's stingy."


"No. . .no, it's not like that. That's not the problem. In fact, it's just the opposite. She's. . .well. . .I'd say. . . charitable."


"That's the problem?"


"No. . .well, not really. . .kinda. . ." he paused a few seconds to regroup his thoughts, noting the confusion on Dixie's face. "I guess you could say it's the problem in that if she wasn't 'charitable', she wouldn'ta helped me out when I came up short at the register and I wouldn'ta asked her out and she wouldn't be batting her eyes at me the whole time we're together and I wouldn't be stuck with taking her to the Firemen's Ball."


Dixie couldn't help but smile again. "Well, to get back to your original question, I've known nice 'Tinas' and not so nice 'Tinas', and the same goes for other names. So I'd say a person's name doesn't necessarily set how they'll turn out. As for the batting of eyes. . .you need to look around yourself more. You'd be surprised."


Johnny stared a moment, not sure what to make of her insinuation. He didn't have to ask. As she got up from her desk to answer a call at the base station, Dixie stated, "Charity's not the only one fluttering her lashes in your direction."


The paramedic still stared ahead, absently picking up the new supplies, then whirled around as his partner came out of the treatment room.


"What'd I miss?" Roy wondered.




"That look on your face."


Without answering the question, he asked, "Hey, have you noticed any nurses batting their eyes? At me, I mean," he quickly added.


Roy eyed Dixie, guessing where the information had come from, then nodded. "A few."


"A few? And you just tell me this now?"


"I didn't think it would be good for your ego."


"My ego? Roy, I don't have an ego."


"You will now."


Johnny watched in stunned silence as his partner bid a friendly goodbye to Dixie and headed for the exit. The younger man quickly glanced around to see if there were any nurses standing around that might be eyeing him as his two friends had stated. When he didn't notice any, he gave a quick smile and wave to Dixie with his free hand, and hurried to catch up with Roy.




"Go ahead and ask," Roy said as he drove out of the lot from Rampart.


"I don't know. . .I wouldn't wanna make you feed my 'ego'."


Roy took a quick glance at his partner and sighed. "Have it your way. But don't say I didn't offer."


It didn't take but a second for Johnny to respond. "So which nurses did you see batting their lashes at me? Do you know their names?"


"Sharon, for one."


"Sharon? Walters?"


Roy nodded. "At the time you were too wrapped up in the girl who went to a different beat of the drum."


Johnny smiled at the memory. "Ellen Bart. I wonder how she's doing now. . .if she's still stuck out on the high seas."


Once again the senior paramedic glanced over.  Roy shook his head at his 'lost in thought' partner, then continued.  "Then there was Jeanette."




"Uh huh. When she was new; before you went out with her."


"Wow. . ."


"And Belinda."


"From Orthopedics?"


"The one and only."


"Man, how did I miss seeing it?"


Roy didn't offer an answer. The younger man wouldn't want to hear how he's usually so busy looking at the wrong girls, that he continuously missed or moved on from the ones he stood a chance with. But since Jeanette and Belinda were both still around, chances were Johnny would take an interest in them again. . .


Providing Miss Price isn't right.


Thinking of the popular TV game show of a similar name, he had to hold back a snicker at his own pun.




"You know, none of what we discussed solved my problem," Johnny stated as Roy backed the squad into the apparatus bay of the station. "I still have to figure out what to do about Charity and her eye batting."


"Maybe it's just the newness of the relationship. Maybe once she really gets to know you, it'll stop."


Gage looked at the older man. "Thanks. . .I think."


Roy turned off the ignition and removed the key as he opened his door. Climbing out he commented, "I'm sure it's not as obvious as you think. It's probably more noticeable to you because you're in the scrutiny stage."


Johnny was halfway out of the squad and paused at his friend's words. "You still don't get it. It's driving me crazy."


"Well, there's plenty of time to call off your next date."


The younger man climbed the rest of the way out and came around the front of the squad, a frown on his face. "You already know my answer to that."


Roy rolled his eyes and headed for the dayroom. Nothing he could say was going to be of any help.




Marco smiled from his seat at the table as the paramedics walked into the room. "Hey, Johnny, we heard you have a new girlfriend."


The dark-haired paramedic noted the three smiling engine crew members, each with a cup of coffee in front of them. He gave an irritated look at Chet before correcting, "She's not my girlfriend."


Mike and Marco exchanged puzzled glances, then gave Chet a knowing look. It hadn't been all that long ago the fireman had made a teasing comment to Gage, causing him to try an assortment of musical instruments with some not always pleasant results the rest of them had to suffer through. And that hadn't been the first or last time the two had gone against each other by any means. It was becoming obvious now that Chet was on yet another plan to have some fun harassing Gage.


"Hey, Johnny, don't be modest," Chet commented. "You know she adores you," he said with a flutter of his eyes.


"Oh brother. . ."


"And, hey, maybe you can claim any dating expenses on your income taxes. You know, in the 'donations to charity' section."


Marco and Mike were listening, but not saying a word as Captain Stanley came into the room during the comment. "Don't even mention income taxes," he said as he pulled out a chair and joined the others at the table. "I've been gathering stuff together for ours for about two weeks now. You know, there's something to be said for having a good filing system at home. I'm gonna have one before next year rolls around."


"Me too," Roy agreed as he headed for the cupboard where the cups were kept.


"What got this subject started, anyway?" Hank asked, eyeing each of the men. 


"Johnny's involved with a new charity," Chet offered.


"Oh really?" He looked at the younger man on his crew. "Which one?"


The paramedic sighed. "It's not a what. It's a who," he added, with another annoyed glance at Kelly. "That's her name."


"Yeah, and she's really got her eyes set on him, " Chet commented, batting his lashes at Gage again.


Johnny leaned against the wall by the phone, his right hand covering his face. Man, I think I'm getting a headache. . . He knew one thing for sure. He'd check under and around things better before volunteering any information to his partner again.




Gage spent the next couple of shifts observing the nurses at Rampart while he and Roy were there, trying not to be too obvious. He would take a glance now and then when he figured Roy or Dixie wouldn't notice. He thought he caught one eyeing him once, but realized she could've also been looking at an orderly standing a few feet behind him.


Jeanette and Belinda were both too busy while the paramedics were around for Johnny to tell if they still took an interest. He'd finally decided the only thing to do was go about business as usual and try to put the other out of his mind. . .though it wasn't going to be easy. The more thought he'd given to the 'missed opportunities', the more he longed for a nurse to bat her eyes at him at least once.


As long as she isn't six feet tall, married, over 150 pounds or a new candy striper.




Two days before the Firemen's Ball, Johnny was still trying to figure out a way to survive the event with his blonde batting beauty. He had gone over to her place again with the intention of finally letting her down easy, but like before, the words just wouldn't come out. Instead he'd ended up on an unexpected fourth date to a movie.


At least it was dark. . .that helped. . .kinda


Now in the middle of an overtime duty with Station 59, Johnny was just glad not to have Chet Kelly around, hammering him with Charity Price jokes. He shook his head at the latest the fireman had thrown at him.


'Charity Price sounds like a name for a budget call girl or somethin'.'


 The comment had pushed Gage to the point that he was defending his non-girlfriend. So much so that he found himself boasting about what a nice chick she was.


 She *is*. If she just didn't bat those big blue eyes every time she looks at me. . .


As he was coming out of his thoughts, the tones sounded, sending the squad and engine out on a run to a 'child trapped' incident. Johnny trotted with the others to the apparatus bay and climbed into the squad's passenger side as Troy Clemens, the other paramedic, got into the driver's seat. Soon they were on their way to an older residential section of town.




A some-what frantic mother and a couple of her friends who were there for her support met the firemen as they arrived at the scene. A few others who lived in the area were standing nearby, watching the drama unfold in their neighborhood.


As Johnny climbed out of the squad, he saw the distraught woman grab the captain by the arm and rattle off an explanation.


"It's my daughter. She and some friends of hers went into that house over there," she said, pointing to an unkempt two-story home behind her. "No one's lived there for a few years and the condition inside's really gotten bad. The kids just got home from school a short time ago and snuck in there to play. . .I wouldn't have ever known if the girls hadn't come and told me that Chrissy was trapped."


"Ma'am, do you know where she's located in the structure?"


The mother nodded. "Yes. The girls said they were in a room at the top of  the stairs when a part of the floor gave out. They jumped back, but Chrissy was on the opposite side. There's a small part of the floor left around the hole and we tried to talk her into walking over to us, but she's afraid it'll break away too. I was going to get her, but the creaking sound the floor made. . .well, I was afraid the rest would collapse. Even the steps leading up to the second floor feel 'different'. Kind of squishy underfoot. "


"Is your daughter injured at all?"


The woman shook her head. "I don't think so; just scared. My son's up there talking to her now and lighting the room with a flashlight, keeping her calm."


Troy Clemens looked over at the house, then asked, "Is there a window she can get to?"


"No. It's a long, narrow closet. . .just shelves along the side."


The captain then set up a plan for a rescue, sending both paramedics with two others from the engine crew to assist inside while he and the engineer waited by the trucks.


As he was heading toward the house with the others, John Gage called out, "How old is Chrissy?"


"Six!" the mother supplied. "She just turned six-years-old three days ago!"


With a nod, he continued on, a coiled up rope slung over his right shoulder.




The interior of the house was dark, with very little light shining in through the windows as some had old curtains still covering them. There was also a strong musty odor that had the men coughing from time-to-time.


When they got to the stairs, Troy shown his flashlight around, exposing two skinny trails of mud on the walls that continued straight up to where the second floor was above. He reached over and hit one with the butt of his flashlight, causing the dried dirt to break open and expose a tube-like opening. No one had any doubts what that meant.


"Termites," one of the engine crewman stated.


Johnny placed a foot on the next step up and cringed at the weak feel to it. "Great. The things've sure done a lot of damage to this place."


Troy nodded in agreement, giving an involuntary shudder. "Let's just get the kid out of here and turn the place over to an exterminator."


"Or a wrecking crew," Gage suggested. Parts of the house were probably too far gone to even make it worth repairing.




The men took it slow and easy to the second floor, being careful not to step too hard and cause more wood surfaces to collapse. Following along the edges near the wall seemed to be the best while climbing the stairs. Once on the next floor, they met with the girl's brother, who was still reassuring the girl help was on the way.  With Gage being the lightest weight of the four rescuers, he was the one selected to go into the closet and get Chrissy. With a lifeline connected to a belt another had carried up, he very slowly placed one foot on the remaining floor. When it didn't give way, he placed the other foot on the surface and let out a sigh of relief when the floor edge still held in place.


Shining his flashlight in the large hole in front of him, he could see part of the downstairs below. The entire structural  support of the floor in that area had been eaten away.


Thank God none of 'em fell when this gave out.


After sidling slowly across for several steps, he was with Chrissy. Johnny knelt down beside her.


"Are you hurt anywhere?"


The little girl shook her head 'no'.


"Okay, sweetheart, I'm gonna carry you outta here. Just put your arms around my neck and I'll pick you up."


She did as directed after the paramedic placed his helmet on her head, the chin strap dangling. Within a minute, Johnny and Chrissy were both safe with the others. The six slowly made their way back outside, the rescued girl still clinging to Johnny's neck.


As they emerged from the structure, the woman ran to get her daughter. Johnny handed the child over and smiled with the others as the mother and little girl hugged. Then Chrissy pulled back and looked at Johnny. Batting her lashes, she stated, "He's my hero, Mommy."


Gage felt a slight blush across his cheeks. He sure was going to get a ribbing for this one. But at least it was only temporary and in this case, he didn't mind. The fluttering was flattering.


Reminds me of someone else I know. . .





With his date in the ladies' restroom, Chet sauntered up to Roy at the Firemen's Valentines Day Ball, where the paramedic was getting a couple of refills on drinks for he and his wife Joanne. Glancing around, Kelly asked, "Where's Johnny and Charity? The gig's been going for over an hour and I haven't seen 'em yet."


 "They aren't coming."


"He got out of it?"


"Not exactly. Charity had to cancel because of an illness, and Johnny didn't want to come without a date. But he didn't feel right bringing a replacement, so he went over to spend the time with her anyway."


"You're kidding me."




"All that stuff about getting out of it, he finally does and now he's at her place with her anyway?"




Chet gave it thought a moment, then shook his head as he commented, "Man, I'll bet Gage is regretting that move. She's probably driving him 'batty', if you get my drift."


"I don't think so. She's got Pinkeye. I guess the tissue in her right eye is so inflamed, she's lucky she can even open it."


"Pinkeye? Isn't Johnny afraid he'll get it too?"


"Well, he really only has to worry if he touches anything she does after rubbing at her eye. And he knows better than to do that. Also, I don't think he's planning on being over there all that long. Just enough to make sure she gets some company since it's Valentines Day. He said she was really let down about missing the ball."


"But doesn't he realize all this is gonna do is make it harder to break up with her later?"


"I don't think it matters anymore, Chet. He seems to have had a change of heart."


The fireman made a disgusted face at the thought of a sensitive John Gage. Sucker. . .


He groaned as Roy finished with, "I guess you could say Charity Price batted a home run."




My immense thanks to Ross for inspiring this story with a certain animated smiley face icon and a picture from an early episode of Emergency! :o)



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