Never Late

By Vision




"See you later, Johnny. Try and be at my place by five"


John smiled at his partner as he watched him hurry towards the door. Every year it was the same thing, Roy would say that he had everything under control, and inevitably, something would come up to muck up his plans. This years was no different... It had become a tradition of sorts to watch Roy race around the station on Halloween night, barking orders and assigning duties to anyone and everyone that happened to walk past him. It was the one day a year when he and John actually traded personalities. Roy would bounce around the station, running off at the mouth, his hands waving in frantic panicked gestures. John would sit back, watching the dramatic antics of his friend, and remain

uncharacteristically quiet.


Reaching in his locker, John retrieved his jacket and keys and moved towards the Rover. It was a pleasant evening, a perfect night for the kids to enjoy their usual trick-or-treat festivities. He always looked forward to accompanying Roy on his rounds about town, laughing at Chris' candy play-by-play, and Jennifer's squeals of delight. Glancing at his watch, he figured he had just enough time to head home for a quick bite to eat before heading to Roy's house. The rest of the crew had already left, and were no doubt on their way to Roy's house as well. Joanne had invited the entire shift and their families over to celebrate the spooky holiday together.


After having a quick snack, John gathered up his contributions to the party and drove to Roy's house. Cap, Chet, Marco, Mike and their families as well as some other close friends were already gathered in the backyard carving pumpkins. Joanne approached him, a worried expression on her face.


"Johnny, do you have any idea where Roy is?"


"He was on his way home. He left just before I did. Maybe he stopped to pick up something," John offered, hoping to alleviate some of her worries.


Joanne nodded, putting on a fake smile as Jennifer bounded towards her.


"Uncle Johnny! You ready to get some loot?"


Johnny couldn't help but laugh as he scooped the child into his arms and hugged her tightly. "Where did you hear that?"


"From Chris," Jennifer offered, gesturing towards her older brother. "Is Daddy with you? He's late. Mommy says he's never late."


John felt the first pangs of worry nestle in the pit of his stomach. Joanne was right; Roy was never late, especially not on Halloween. Placing Jennifer on the ground, John patted her head in reassurance and smiled "I'm sure Daddy just had a few things to pick up. I'm sure he'll be here real soon. You run along and get Uncle Cap to cut out your pumpkin for you. I'll go find Daddy."


John watched as Jennifer trotted off towards the picnic table where Cap was helping a few of the youngsters learn the fine art of pumpkin carving. Cap looked up as Jennifer approached, giving John a worried look before turning his attention back to his work.


John looked at his watch, noting that Roy was now over an hour late. Silent alarms sounded in his head as he thought of what might have happened to Roy during the short drive home.


After talking to Joanne, Johnny grabbed his car keys and began to re-trace his partner's route home. His eyes darted from the road to the surrounding landscape in hopes of catching a glimpse of his partner's truck. Finally, out of the side of his eye, John caught sight of a gleam of metal a number of yards ahead of him. As he drove closer, he could feel a sense of urgency rising in his mind.


Oh God...


As he neared the accident scene, John became painfully certain that the truck was indeed Roy's. His heart sank as he noted the large tree that had obviously fallen into the wake of Roy's path.


Swallowing back his fear, John parked his vehicle, and ran towards the still figure slumped over the steering wheel of the truck. Yanking the driver's side door open, John stared into the tired, glassy eyes of his partner.


"Bout time you showed up," Roy mumbled, grimacing as he tried to reassure John with a smile.


"Yeah, well, some of us were at a party. I see you decided to have one of your own."


"Uh huh. It's been a barrel of laughs."


Reaching into the cab of the truck, John ran his hands expertly over Roy's body. "So party boy, where are you hurt?"


"Um... My head, just my head."


"Did you lose consciousness?" John asked, concern clearly evident in his voice.


"Let's just say, I think I saw the great pumpkin."



John smiled, lightly fingering the large gash on Roy's forehead. "I'll take that as a yes. Chet and Marco are right behind me. They should be here any minute. You sure you're not hurt anywhere else?"


"No, just my head."


"Well partner, it looks like you'll be spending Halloween at Rampart this year. I guess that means I get first dibs on the loot."


"Loot?" Roy wasn't quite sure what exactly Johnny was talking about.


"You know, the candy."




John turned at the sound of hurried footsteps coming towards him. "Cavalry's here. I'm gonna send Chet for an ambulance. You just relax, and try not to move."


Roy closed his eyes as he felt Johnny's hand on his wrist. In his mind's eye he could see Johnny checking his vitals, and rhyming off the information to the doctors at Rampart. He tried to stay awake but found it impossible to do so. He could feel Johnny's arms around him, supporting his weight as he sagged heavily against him. He felt safe, secure in his partner's grasp, confident that he would have the best of care.


Roy awoke to the smell of antiseptic and the starch white sheets of a hospital room. An IV was securely taped to his arm, the steady drip of the liquid filtering along the plastic tubing. He rolled his head to the side, smiling slightly as he looked into the calm eyes of his friend.


"How you doing?" Johnny asked, returning the smile.




"You've got quite the bump there partner. Gave us all quite a scare. I know Halloween is for scaring people, but you think next time you could try not to take that idea so literally?"


"Very funny. Is Joanne here?"


"She just left. She's been here all night. I took Chris and Jen out trick-or-treating while she stayed with you. Oh, I almost forgot."


Slipping a bag of candy into Roy's hand, Johnny smiled. "It's your half of the loot."




"No problem. I gave you all the black jellybeans. I hate black jelly beans."


"So do I," Roy joked, glad to have his partner to keep him company.


"I know," John replied smugly, "That's why I gave them to you. Maybe next year you'll do better Charlie Brown."


"I'm sure I will Linus. I'm sure I will."