Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the guys, just a few pictures and some tapes. Cause if I did, I wouldn’t be writing fanfic, if you know what I mean...
A/N I really like stories where Johnny is good at what he does. And I wanted him to win for once, when a girl is concerned. I hope you enjoy it. This one is for Lorraine, a dear E! friend. Thanks for those nice conversations about Johnny.
Let me remind you that english is NOT my native language. Thanks to Lorraine and Sandy who corrected my many mistakes. I so appreciate your input.
As always feedback is appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org
On to the story.
¨Point and match!¨
A triumphant John Gage raised his arms up in victory. He had played one on one volley ball against Chet and beaten the stocky fireman by 12 points. Chet reluctantly shook the dark haired paramedic's hand, clenching his jaw at the smug look on Gage's face.
¨Now, do you admit my superiority, Chet?¨ taunted Johnny.
¨Only in sports Gage. Only in sports.¨
Chet walked away to join his crew mates, who were sipping their beer on the patio. Most of the crew members of the three shifts of station 51 were gathered at Roy DeSoto's house for a picnic.
It was the first week end of August and the temperature was ideal for a party around Roy's new pool. The ladies were chatting animatedly while preparing the various snacks that would content the always hungry firemen. There were the familiar faces of the wives who attended regular gatherings such as this one. But this year, there were three new ladies joining the group. Chet Kelly, Marco Lopez and John Gage had each brought a date.
Joanne DeSoto stood and watched the girls with a little smile on her face. Rosita Hernandez, Marco’s girlfriend, was what could only be described as a beauty. She was petite, with a soft voice but with an air of strength about her that sent the message that she was a force to be reckoned with. From the moment Johanne shook her hand, she had liked her. She smiled a lot and Joanne could tell it was sincere.
Helen Mallory was a tall blonde with a spark in her eye that matched Chet Kelly’s own. She was really funny and loved a good laugh. She was a perfect match for the stocky fireman.
The last one, Joanne wasn’t too sure about. Kate Munroe was a tall red-head. She had been a model and it showed. Joanne’s first thought when meeting her, two months ago, had been ‘plastic’. Her beauty was plastic and she had the warmth to go with it. Since her arrival she had barely mingled with anyone but Johnny. She had been looking around with a bored look indicating that she would prefer to be anywhere but at the DeSoto’s.
Joanne sighed. The girl was completely wrong for Johnny. Even though they had been dating for nearly five months now and Johnny praised the woman, Joanne had the feeling that Johnny wasn’t really satisfied with the relationship. John Gage was a genuinely good guy. Always ready to help, compassionate and full of life. He loved people and didn’t judge anyone. He loved simple things, even if he, somehow, always ended up complicating his life.
Kate on the other hand loved the glitter and the nightlife. Joanne thought of her as superficial and was sure she wasn’t far from the truth.
A hand on her shoulder interrupted her musing. “Penny for your thoughts”, whispered Roy.
Joanne shook her head and smiled. “It’s nothing”, she said, kissing her husband on the cheek.
“Let’s get back to the party then.”
They both joined the crowd just in time to hear Chet’s proposal.
“So what do you say Gage? Me and Helen and you and Kate? My cousin has this great little cabin near the lake. We could go fishing and there’s a few trails leading to the mountains. We have next week-end off. Just say the word, and it’s a done deal.”
Johnny bit his lip for a moment. That was tempting. A week-end away with Kate. Nature, fresh air, silence...Kelly was watching Johnny’s face and knew that he was going to say yes when that crooked smile appeared on his lips. Despite all of the pranks and the barbs, the men were friends in their own way.
“You’re on Chet!”, he said turning to look at Kate. Judging by the look on her face, Gage knew that he would have a hard time convincing her to go with him. So he turned on the charm, hoping that it would be enough to win her over. He took her hand and smiled.
“You’re off next week-end, right? I think we could use a little time away, you know, to have fun and relax,” he said, eyeing the red-headed beauty.
Kate sighed deeply. Johnny was a nice guy. She liked him a lot. But she missed something. She missed the glamour of her life as a model. She looked around and all she could see were blue collars, happy with their little lives and not aspiring to be anything else. Those were Johnny’s friends. She wasn’t free that week-end anyway.
“John...Look my ex-boyfriend is in town and he asked me to go sky diving with him next week-end. He is a race car driver and he’ll be here for 10 days for the race. I think that we’ll see each other often while he’s in town.”
Johnny was looking at her with a dumbfounded expression on his handsome face. Although the crowd had tried to move out of earshot as much possible, Kate didn't seem to care if anyone was listening to the couple. Johnny’s friends couldn’t believe that the woman didn’t have the decency to talk to John privately. It was one thing to dump him, but it was another to humiliate him in front of his friends.
Joanne DeSoto grabbed Roy’s hand and whispered in his ear. “I knew she was bad news and would end up hurting Johnny.” Roy just nodded his head, wondering how it would affect his partner during their shift tomorrow. Or better, how it would affect HIM, because knowing Johnny, he would rant and rant non-stop about it. He glanced back at Kate who was pouring her heart out, or as Roy thought, her lack of heart.
“I like you John, but you’re not interesting. You like bowling, fishing, camping, hiking, climbing. Your life is boring. And you like it that way. That’s dull. I just don’t think we come from the same place. And we certainly aren’t going the same road. I’m sorry John”, she said in a cool tone.
Johnny frowned and for a moment, the guys thought he was going to beg her for a second chance. But he just took her elbow gently and guided her toward the door. “I’m taking you home, Kate”, he said in an even tone.
He tentatively smiled at Roy and Joanne.
“We’re leaving. Thanks again for the party. I’ll see you tomorrow, Roy.”
The estranged couple left without another word. People were uncomfortable. The whole situation had put a damper on the mood. It was Chet Kelly who tried to lighten the atmosphere.
“You wanna bet, he’s going to pull that Gage charm and win her over. He’s gonna have a second chance with her.”
He didn’t hear Roy say through clenched teeth, “I hope not!”.
Joanne took a deep breath and smiled. She had guests to attend to and had no intention of letting a cold hearted barbie ruin the mood.
“Well dig in guys. There’s enough food to feed a whole fire station.”
People laughed and continued conversations interrupted by the earlier drama. Johnny was not forgotten, but just put aside for a while.
“We’re okay for a couple more runs before resupplying at Rampart.”
Roy put the drug box back into the squad. Johnny had been unusually quiet that morning, but Roy wasn’t surprised. After what had happened at the party, he didn’t expect his partner to be his chatty self. But he knew it wouldn’t be long before John would open-up about it.
“Want a cup of coffee?”
Gage shrugged. “Sure.”
They went to the kitchen and Roy poured two cups of the aromatic brew. Johnny sat down on a chair, his long legs crossed at the ankles. He was playing with his pen. Mike was reading the newspaper while Marco and Chet were talking about the best way to make chili. Cap took his cup of coffee and walked back into his office to take care of the never ending paperwork.
After a while, Johnny cleared his throat and looked at Roy.
“Do you think I’m boring?”
Chet snickered and opened his mouth to answer but a look from Roy told him that it was better to keep silent. Roy pressed his lips together and suddenly started laughing. John’s face took a hurt look.
“What’s so funny?”
Roy tried to control his laughter and took a deep breath.
“Sorry partner. I was not laughing at you. Johnny, you are many things, but boring is not something that describes you.”
“Nut, gullible, pigeon...”Chet started listing in his mocking tone.
“Shut up Chet”, snapped Gage. He turned back to Roy. “But you heard Kate...”
Roy didn’t let him finish. “You’re a firefighter/paramedic. Do you think your job is boring? Do you think there’s no danger in what we do?”
John shook his head. “No, but...”
“You go climbing. How many people have you rescued from a climb that turned sour?”
Johnny smiled. “More than I can count.”
“So you like bowling, camping, climbing and fishing. Those are relaxing activities. We live on adrenaline on a constant basis. Don’t you think that you’re entitled to have a few things that won’t send your heart rate up through the roof?”
Johnny shrugged, not completely convinced. ¨I guess.¨
Roy rolled his eyes. ¨Don't guess. Trust me. You're anything but boring.¨
“And besides, with you Gage, a simple trip to the grocery store can be hazardous,” Chet added in a sarcastic tone.
Before Johnny could reply, the tones sounded.
‘Station 51. Battalion 14. Engine 110, Truck 43 Structure fire. 1287 Manchester Avenue. One two eight seven Manchester Avenue. Cross street Sheppard. Time out 8:37.’
“Station 51 10-4. KMG365.”
Hank Stanley scribbled the address and passed it to Roy before rushing to the engine. They all knew it was going be a long, hard night.
“Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.”
Johnny chanted to his crew mates while rushing to his locker to change into his uniform. Chet and Marco each raised an eyebrow while Mike just tilted his head. Roy smiled at his partner’s enthusiasm. It looked like Johnny was over his brooding.
“Morning. You seem in a good mood today.”
“Well, it’s a beautiful day. I had a great time on my days off,” replied the dark-haired paramedic, tucking his shirt into his pants.
Roy sat on the bench near Johnny and waited for him to continue. But when his partner stayed silent, Roy debated on whether to question him or to let it go. He knew he would probably regret it, but Roy asked the question anyway.
“What did you do?”
John crouched to lace his shoes and looked at his friend.
“I went to the Aviatic Club,” he said with a smile.
Roy opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He shook his head. He shouldn’t have asked but now it was too late.
“Johnny, tell me you didn’t!”
Gage frowned. What was Roy talking about? “Didn’t what?”
“Tell me you didn’t decide to listen to Kate. Tell me you didn’t try that parachute thing or whatever it is that they do at the Aviatic Club, “Roy said in a pleading tone.
Now it was Johnny’s turn to be speechless. He spread his hand on his chest. “Me? No! I just...I was...I was curious. So I went there and watched and asked questions. But I didn’t jump. Let me tell you something Roy. You really have to be insane to do that. I mean, who, in his right mind, would put a square of silk in a bag on his back and jump from an airplane that is flying at 1500 feet? You really have to be crazy to do that!”, Johnny emphasized his words with wide arms movements.
Roy smiled, relieved that for once his partner had shown good judgment. He decided to tease him a little. He winked at Chet and Marco who were listening to Johnny silently.
“Well I don’t know about that. Some people would say that you really must be insane to run into a burning building!”
Chet and Marco laughed at Roy’s comment but John made a face.
“Ah Ah. I can’t talk to you when you’re like that!”
He left the locker room under the incredulous stare of the three men. The blond paramedic shook his head. That was the Gage logic in action.
They all left for the kitchen, where they knew they would find their wayward friend. But before Hank Stanley had time to announce roll call, the tones for the squad sounded.
Roy and John rushed to the squad and went to their first call of the day.
They hadn’t been able to return to the station all day and both paramedics were hungry. They barely had time for a cup of coffee and a donut at Rampart’s cafeteria. It had been a very busy day.
“Man I’m starved”, Roy said when his stomach made a growling sound.
Johnny was leaning his head on the door’s window, trying to relax. “Is it Mike’s turn to cook? Man, I could go for fried chicken!”
Roy shook his head. “No such luck. It’s Chet’s turn.”
Gage made a gagging noise. “Think we should stop at Phil’s and get some burgers?”
The fair-haired paramedic smiled and shook his head. “Come on Johnny. Give Chet a chance!”
The lanky man gave his partner an incredulous look. “Give Chet’s cooking a chance? Are you nuts? I value my health you know. The only thing that Chet can cook that is barely edible is his stew. And I’m not in the mood for stew.”
Both men stayed silent for a while, but it was an easy silence. But when Johnny started fidgeting on his seat, Roy knew something was up. He didn’t have to wait for long.
“What do you think of motocross? Or boat racing?”
Roy DeSoto closed his eyes for a brief moment and sighed long and deeply. Here we go again, he thought.
“So Chet, what’s for dinner?”
Johnny and Roy had just arrived from their last run and were starving.
The bulky fireman smiled with a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
“Well Johnny...Nothing complicated. Nothing too flamboyant. I’ve decided to accommodate your...shall we say...character. So I thought of a simple garden salad. And then, plain boiled chicken with plain white rice. And for dessert, simple, BORING, vanilla ice cream. I didn’t want to disturb your routine.”
The others laughed at Chet’s comments except for Johnny and Roy. Johnny, because he didn’t see what was funny about the whole thing and Roy, because he knew he would be the one to pay for Chet’s insensitive joke.
“Very funny, Kelly. I’ll be in the dorm. I’ve suddenly lost my appetite.”
Gage bumped into a chair on his way out and threw it out of his way. Roy sat heavily on the table.
“Thanks a lot Chet!”
“Oh come on Roy! You have to admit it was funny. Kate gave me ammunitions against Johnny. It would be a crime not to use it!”
DeSoto shook his head. "You don’t get it, do you? He was just getting out of that funk Kate sent him into. And now, thanks to your little joke, you just pushed him right back. You see Chet, you don’t have to ride with him, but I do. So if he is miserable, I am twice as miserable. So please for the rest of the day, lay off Johnny!”
Roy’s tone indicated that he was serious. Chet just shrugged his shoulder.
“Just because it’s you Roy. And just for today.”
“Thanks. That’s all I’m asking. So what’s really for dinner?”
Chet petted his mustache and made a grand gesture. “What else but my famous Irish stew?”
Roy bowed his head in defeat. “Maybe Johnny was right. We should have stopped for burgers.”
Captain Stanley gathered his men in the day room.
“Listen up. This week-end it’s the championship race at the track and we will be the unit on stand by at the scene. We will be receiving the maps of the place and all the information so we’ll be able to plan our strategy for all emergencies.”
All the guys were smiling at the idea of being at the site of one of the biggest championship race of the state. There would be the excitement, the girls, the cars... All were smiling but Johnny. When Cap noticed the defeated look on his youngest paramedic’s face, he showed concern.
“What is it John? You don’t look too happy about this assignment?”
Johnny just shrugged. “I’m not, Cap.”
When he didn’t elaborate on his statement, Roy made a small movement with his head, indicating that he wanted to talk to Johnny alone. The guys understood and left silently.
The blond paramedic put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“What is it Johnny?”
Gage lifted his head and looked at Roy. “Are you kidding me? Do you know who’s gonna be at the race?”
When Roy shook his head, John sadly laughed. “Kate’s ex-boyfriend? Or maybe he already lost the ex. The race car driver. Mister Not Plain. Not Boring. Mister Sky Diving. And Kate will be there too, I’m sure!”
Roy smiled. Count on Johnny to make a big deal out of nothing. “It’s a big place. There’ll be thousands of people. What are the odds of you seeing Kate or her ex-boyfriend?”
John stared at his friend incredulously. “With my luck? I’d say the odds are against me!”
He left in a rush when the tones sounded. Roy took a second to reflect on that.
“You got a point there!”
It’s gonna be a bad day!
The roaring sound of the car engines was almost too much for John Gage. He had started his shift with a splitting headache and the noise wasn’t helping in the least. Added to the fact that he was dreading this assignment and you had a very miserable paramedic. The other guys’ enthusiasm couldn’t even breach his brooding mood.
But so far so good. He hadn’t seen Kate or her Ex-boyfriend. He had spotted a few gorgeous girls but they all seemed interested in the pilots. Go figure!
He was startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Roy was offering him a bottle of water, which Johnny took gratefully. It was a hot day and the fact that there were a few cars going full-speed around the track, added to the heat. And these were just the qualifications. When the real race started, there would be some twenty engines that would create a chaos of noise and heat.
“Thanks Roy! Man, I can’t believe all those people. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be here. No, Sir! I would be on the beach, or on a trail, taking in some fresh air and quiet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind crowds. We’ve been at a few baseball games and I enjoyed it. But this...this is too much. You tell me Roy. Is this your idea of fun?”
Wisely, Roy DeSoto waited a few seconds, just to make sure that his partner was finished. When Johnny kept silent, the blond paramedic risked an answer.
“You know Johnny, we’re not here to have fun. We’re here to work.”
The lanky paramedic rolled his eyes and spread his hand on his chest to emphasize what he was about to say.
“I know that! Don’t you think I know that? I was just pointing out that if I had a choice I wouldn’t be here!”
“Yeah well you don’t have a choice. So you better make the best of it!”, replied Roy with his no nonsense tone. It was a hot day and there were thousands of people, the noise was deafening and he didn’t need his partner’s rant on top of it.
Gage looked at his partner with wounded eyes. “Gee! I’m sorry if I busted your bubble! See if I share my opinion next time!”
Roy rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath, ‘a man can hope!’.
Both paramedics kept their vigil from the stands that had been installed near the press zone.
“There you go! It looks like it’s sprained. I suggest that you go to the hospital and get it x-rayed just to be sure that there’s nothing broken.”
The blonde woman gave Johnny a tight smile while her boyfriend muttered under his breath that he knew that bringing her was a bad idea. The dark-haired paramedic finished bandaging the woman’s ankle and just gave a nod to the couple. Once done, he walked back to the Emergency stand. Roy was watching the action on the track with little interest. He really wasn’t into car racing but there was really nothing else to do. It was either watching the race or listening to his partner’s latest idea to improve keeping tracks of their runs and therefore, cutting the paperwork time.
Gage was always full of ideas. Unfortunately, he also had short attention span. He could jump from one project to another in the blink of an eye. It also probably explained Johnny’s limited success with the female population. That and the fact that Gage seemed to be interested in two kinds of women: nurses and models. Both kind were totally wrong for him. He needed someone who liked the outdoors as much as he did. Someone with simple taste. Someone who could understand the demands of the job and accept it. Maybe Roy should try to match him with Joanne’s cousin...Or not.
The blond paramedic raised an eyebrow at his partner. Gage just shrugged. ¨Just a sprain. She'll go see her doctor I guess. What was she thinking, wearing those high...¨
Before he could finish his rant, both men heard their captain's voice on the HT.
##Squad 51, this is Engine 51. We have a possible broken arm at the Emerson stand. Approach non code R.##
¨Squad 51, 10-4¨, Roy acknowledged the call while getting into the squad. Johnny was already in, checking the location of the Emerson stand on the map that has been provided by the Race committee.
The trip was short and uneventful. Cap was waiting for them while Marco and Chet were trying to keep the crowd at bay.
¨It's one of the mechanics. His arm got caught between the engine and the pulley. He's been bleeding some. Mike had put a pressure bandage on the gash.¨
Both paramedics nodded and grabbed their equipment in the squad. Mike was kneeling near the injured man.
¨I'm glad to see you, guys.¨
Without another word, the engineer gladly gave up his place. Roy questioned the mechanic and took his vital signs while Johnny contacted Rampart on the biophone.
¨Rampart, this is Squad 51, how do you read?¨
Almost immediately Dr Kelly Brackett's voice could be heard. #Go ahead 51.#
¨Rampart we have a male, approximately 35. He got his arm stuck between a car engine and a pulley. His radius and ulna appear to be broken. He has a three inches gash on his forearm, but it seems superficial. A pressure bandage had been applied, and it stopped bleeding.Stand by for vitals.¨
#Standing by 51.#
Gage waited for Roy to be finished with taking the man's blood pressure before he transmitted the information.
¨Rampart, the vitals are: pulse 122, respirations 18 and shallow. BP is 150 over 90.¨
The paramedic waited for the doctors orders.
#51, start an IV with Ringers Lactate. Is the patient in pain?#
John turned to Roy. The blond paramedic shook his head, reaching for the tubing and a bag of RL.
¨No. He told me he wasn't feeling any pain.¨
Again Johnny transmitted the information to Brackett.
#51, Transport as soon as possible. Keep me informed if there are any changes.#
¨10-4 Rampart. IV with Ringers Lactate and transport.¨
Gage helped Roy in splinting the man's arm and installing him in the gurney. An ambulance was already at the scene so they didn't have to wait. Without further words, DeSoto got into the ambulance. Johnny clapped twice on the door, giving the driver the signal that they were ready to go.
The dark-haired paramedic started to pick up the rest of their equipment. Cap crouched to his position.
¨Need any help John?¨
Gage shook his head. ¨Nah. I'm fine, Cap. I'm just gonna go back to the stand. Roy will be coming back with the ambulance. Hopefully, we won't have any more calls until Roy returns.¨
Hank Stanley gave his paramedic a disapproving look. ¨Shhhhh! Do you want to jinx us?¨, he said in a low voice.
John only rolled his eyes. That sounded like something Chet Kelly would say. Not Cap. But before he could reply, someone called loudly.
¨Help! I need help here!¨
Stanley and Gage rushed to the next stand. Inside the garage, lying on the ground, a man in a racing suit was grabbing at his chest and moaning softly. An elderly man was kneeling next to him trying to reassure the fallen man.
John smiled his best reassuring smile.
¨Sir, can you tell me what happened?¨
The old man took a deep breath and let the air go slowly. ¨I was giving Brandon his last instructions for the race and suddenly he had problems breathing. He's been complaining about the heat the whole morning, so I thought it was some kind of heat stroke. He was sweating a lot. But then suddenly he grabbed his chest and he fell on the ground. I...I didn't know what to do so I called for help.¨
Johnny checked for any other injuries and smiled at the old man.
¨You did right, sir. We're gonna take care of Brandon.¨ He turned toward Hank Stanley. ¨Cap, I need a phone and could you bring me the oxygen from the squad?¨
Hank nodded and rushed to the squad while the old man got up. ¨I'm gonna find a phone.¨
He trotted out of the garage. Gage was taking the man's pulse and respirations while waiting for the rest of his equipment when suddenly a strong smell reached his nostrils. Fuel.
He turned his head just in time to see a car stopping at the stand and some mechanics rushing to changes the tires. His eyes trailed on the pool of gas on the ground and he could only think of one thing. One spark and there would be an explosion.
’Jinx!’, he thought, replaying Cap's words from earlier.
A spark, and then the Inferno.
Pure instinct made him react. He covered Brandon's body with his own, grabbing a a small tarp that was lying nearby and tried his best to shelter them both from the blaze.
With his head on Brandon's chest, he heard the lack of beating heart. Grateful that he had kept the HT with him, he pushed the button and called for help.
¨HT 51 to Engine 51. There's been an explosion. We are trapped inside the garage. I need some water fast. My patient is in full arrest. I need to get him out of here.¨
He had never been more relieved to hear the voice of his captain.
# We're coming, HT 51. Another squad is on its way. Chet, Marco, get an inch and a half and spray the entrance. Gage is going to be running out with his patient.#
Johnny stood up and spotted the garage entrance through the raging fire. He looked around to see if there was anything he could use to protect himself from the flames but found nothing. The tarp was too small for the both of them so the paramedic rolled the injured man into the tarp and lifted him over his shoulder. He knew he couldn’t escape unscathed but at least Brandon would be safe. He didn’t have his turnout coat and if luck was with him, Johnny could hope for minor burns. If not...
To his relief, Gage felt drops of water on his face, indicating that his fellow firefighters were already at the garage door spraying the life saving fluid. He pushed the button of his HT to alert his friends that he was coming out. “Be ready for us!”
He took a deep breath, which was a mistake in the super heated air. His lungs burned and he tried to suppress a groan. He didn’t need a burning throat on top of everything else. He ran toward the door and couldn’t help but say a silent prayer. He felt a burning sensation on his hands and forearm but dismissed the pain. He had a patient to take care of. He stopped running after a couple of feet and put his precious cargo on the ground. He didn’t pay attention to the cheers from the crowd nor did he hear the word HERO being yelled. There were more important things at hand. He turned toward Mike who was checking the meters on Big Red.
“Mike! I need someone to relay to Rampart for me. The other squad is not here yet. We’ll use the HT to make contact with dispatch. I need the oxygen and someone to help me with Brandon here. He’s in full arrest. I’m beginning CPR.” Johnny opened the man’s suit and started compressing. He tried to cut himself off from the loud crowd and concentrate on his patient. A tall man kneeled on the other side of Brandon and waited until Johnny finished giving breaths to his patient.
“I’m Carl Milner. I’m an EMT. Can I help?” the man said in a calm voice.
The dark haired paramedic smiled gratefully. ”Can you establish contact with L.A.-dispatch and have them relay to Rampart. Take my HT. It’s in my pocket. Mike! I need the data scope and defibrillator. Bring the drug box too.”
His hands were starting to hurt and he shook his head to stop the dizzy feeling. ‘Not now Gage! Not now’
Carl had established contact with dispatch and in no time Brackett was barking his orders to the EMT, who relayed them efficiently to the paramedic. Both men were working silently and with ease. Within a couple of minutes the ambulance and Squad 49 were on the scene to take charge. By that time Brandon’s heart had started beating and he was breathing on his own. John gladly let the other paramedics take care of Brandon.
“You okay, Gage?” asked Ricardo Hernandez, while putting squad 49 equipment in its compartment.
The tall paramedic smiled half his usual crooked grin.” ‘m fine. I’m fine.” He didn’t want anyone to fuss over him. Roy did enough of that.
He sat on the ground and looked at his hand and arms. Red blisters were starting to show and now that the adrenaline was wearing off, the pain was starting to make itself known.
He smiled when Carl opened a pack of normal saline and some sterile bandages and started treating his burns.
“Ever thought of joining the paramedic program?”, he asked the young man. Carl was skilled and he seemed level headed. John thought he was a pretty good judge of character and he had a good feeling about the man. They were always looking for good potential.
Carl smiled while continuing his task. “ Never thought of it before...but now...maybe I’ll give it a try.”
John just nodded his head and stood up when his captain walked toward him. The fire had been extinguished and luckily only two other men had been slightly injured. Mostly minor burns.
Hank Stanley sighed deeply at the scene he was witnessing. John was hurt. Again. Luckily it didn’t seem too serious. He raised his eyebrow at the stranger taking care of his paramedic. Gage just smiled and made the introduction.
“Cap, this is Carl Milner. He’s an EMT. I’m trying to get him to enroll to the paramedic program. He helped me with the driver. Carl, this is Captain Hank Stanley. We work at Station 51. Best Captain there is”, replied John innocently.
The two men shook hands and Hank turned to look at his man. “Gage, flattery will only lead you to Rampart. Chet will ride with you in the squad.” Stanley returned to his waiting men to finish the clean up.
Gage grinned and waited for Chet to move. “Thanks for your help, Carl. And I’m serious about being a paramedic. Just look me up at 51.”
“I will Johnny, thanks. Good luck.” Milner left quietly. Chet brought the squad but before John could get in, he heard a commotion from the crowd. Three women were rushing toward them. He frowned when he recognized Kate. At any other time, John would have stopped to admire her. And her friends. But for now, he was tired, he was in pain and he wanted nothing more than to see Dr Brackett or Early and get a shot of pain killer that would take care of the throbbing ache.
But Kate had other ideas.
“John! What happened? Is Brandon okay? Where is he?”, her tone was bordering on hysterical. Suddenly, Gage realized that his patient was Kate’s ex-boyfriend. He almost went into hysterics himself. What a way to end a miserable day!
He tried his best to calm her down. “Kate, listen to me. Brandon is on his way to Rampart. He suffered a heart attack. The doctors there are the best. They’re gonna take good care of him,” his tone was soothing. It calmed her a bit.
Kate turned to her friends.” You drive! I’m in no shape to drive myself.”
A short man joined them and took Kate’s keys from her. “I’ll drive you. You chicks are not driving anywhere by yourselves.”
He turned to Johnny and shook his head. “Man, that was incredible! I mean, when I saw you running out of that burning garage! It was like the movies. And then you started doing this thing on his chest and the breathing thing. I mean... wow...it was awesome!”
Johnny could only listen to the man’s babbling, wondering if he was for real. He looked like an hyper active child. The paramedic thought that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for him to drive the women to the hospital. He didn’t seem any calmer than they were. But he thought it more prudent to just nod and get in the squad.
“Just doing my job, sir. We really need to go. Take care Kate. And please drive safely.”
He didn’t wait for any reply and just barked at Kelly “Drive!”
Chet stayed silent and drove away, heading to Rampart. After a while, though, he couldn’t help himself.
“What were the odds of you saving Kate’s ex boyfriend and meeting her here?”
Gage just glared at the stocky firefighter but it was enough for Kelly to remain silent.
“Well Johnny, you were lucky. First degree burns on both your forearm and right hand and second degree burns on your left hand. Could have been much worse.” Dr Joe Early was finishing bandaging the paramedics arms. Johnny was feeling good. No pain. Thank god for MS!
“How long will I be laid up, Doc?” Johnny asked, already dreading the inaction that went with injuries. It was hard for him to stay inactive at the best of times , but now with both hands injured...
Early smiled, understanding. The paramedic was a ball of energy, always in motion. The time off was going to be a real trial for John Gage’s patience.
“According to your schedule, at least 3 shifts. Your arms and hands should be healed enough for you to work after that. You know the drill. Keep the bandages dry. If there’s any leakage or if you have a fever or any unusual aches, you come and see me. And I mean it Johnny. I’m going to prescribe you some pain killers. Take them if you need them.” He handed the dark haired man a prescription for the said pain killers.
Johnny took the prescription with a clumsy hand and tried to put it in his pocket. He wasn't managing very well and Joe tried very hard to suppress a laugh. Without a word he took the paper, fold it in two and put it in John’s pocket. The lean paramedic’s face was red from embarrassment. He just nodded to the doctor and rushed out of the treatment room. All his crew mates were there. He also spotted Kate and her friends. It seemed that Brackett was still with Brandon.
Roy glanced worriedly at his partner. Chet had told him the whole story and DeSoto was glad that Johnny’s injuries were not more serious. Once again he hadn’t been there to take care of his friend when he needed him. He sighed deeply but startled when Johnny spoke in his ear.
Roy frowned. ‘Don’t what?’ he wondered. But Johnny continued to whisper in his ear.”Don’t go blame yourself for what happened to me. You ĥad a patient to take care of. We had a second emergency and I took care of it. I got slightly injured, no big deal. If you go down the guilty road, I might as well ask for a new partner. Brooding doesn’t become you and your guilt just plain drives me nut”, Johnny said, winking at Roy.
Roy couldn’t help but smile. Johnny was right, but he would never admit it. He shook his head and looked at his friend right in the eyes. “Okay. No guilt.”
Gage smiled contentedly. Roy could be so sensitive sometimes. Johnny was glad that he had got through to him.
Treatment 3 door opened and Kelly Bracket walked out. He spotted the crowd and slowly marched toward them. He addressed Kate and her friends
“He’s going be fine. It was touch and go for a while, but he received treatment within the first few minutes of the attack and it saved his life.” He turned toward the silent paramedic.” Good job Johnny. We’re going move him to the CCU. He’ll probably sleep for a while. Why don’t you go home and come back tomorrow? He’ll probably wake up and be more alert to have visitors.”
They slowly nodded and started moving. Bracket took Johnny’s bandaged hands and inspected them.
“How are your hands?”
“They’re fine. First and second degree burns. I’m gonna be laid up for at least 3 shifts. Sorry about that Cap.”Johnny sheepishly apologized to his captain.
“I’m just glad you’re okay John. Don’t worry about the rest.”
The dark-haired paramedic just smiled, but it slowly faded away. Kate and her friends were walking toward him. ‘Great! Is this day ever gonna end?’ he thought.
The small man was still going on about Johnny and him being a hero. Kate stopped in front of him and to everyone’s surprise, she kissed him. Gage felt the blush slowly creep to his cheeks.
“Thank you so much John. You saved Brandon’s life. I’m really grateful.”
Before Johnny could even reply, one of the other girls was pushing Kate out of the way.
“Won’t you introduce us to gorgeous here? I’m Suzan and I love the hero type.”
Kate just glared at her friend. “This is John Gage. He’s a firefighter/paramedic and MY boyfriend.”
Johnny Gage just shook his head. This was too much. He wanted to go home and relax. He didn’t need this kind of drama right now. At any other time, he would have appreciated the attention two beautiful women were lavishing on him. But the MS was wearing out and a headache was slowly building behind his eyes.
He looked at Kate with a closed face. “Ex boyfriend! Remember. You dumped me.”
Everyone was looking at him with awe. It wasn’t Johnny’s style to air his private business in a public place. But Roy could see the fine line of pain on his face and he knew that his friend had reached his boiling point. He kept silent though. It was Johnny’s battle.
Kate’s face took an innocent look that was way too staged to be honest.”John! Surely, you realized that I was teasing you. You misunderstood me. You know you’re a great guy. I enjoy spending time with you. What do you say, we could go out Friday. Chose whatever you want to do. That way you can make it up to me!”
A gasp could be hear from the crew of 51. They couldn’t believe the woman. Roy was crossing his fingers, hoping that his friend wouldn’t let a pretty face make a complete fool of him.
Chet Kelly whispered into Mike and Marco’s ears,”I bet you ten bucks, he takes her back.”
Mike and Marco exchanged a glance and shook their head. They certainly hoped that Chet was wrong. All the attention was now on Johnny. They couldn’t read his usually expressive face. He looked at Kate and smiled.
“Really? I can make it up to you?”
Kate smiled and just nodded her head. He was so easy. Gage nodded his head as well.
“Kate, you’re a nice woman and I like you a lot. But you see, your life is way too daring for me. I mean, I’m just a boring, simple firefighter/paramedic. You like sky diving and all those exciting things. I run into burning buildings, I rescue people in dangerous situations. My job gives me plenty of excitement. I don’t need more. You see, we don’t come from the same place and we’re certainly not going the same road. I guess that this is goodbye Kate. There’s a couch with my name on it, waiting for me.”
He turned his heels and walked away, still amazed that he had the guts to dump her in front of his friends and hers. He couldn’t help but feeling a bit guilty at the satisfaction he was feeling. ‘Screw the guilt,’ he thought. He stopped and glanced behind his shoulder.
Kate was rushing out toward the exit. Roy winked at him with a huge smile on his face. Cap was looking at the paramedic with his mouth open. Mike and Marco were waiting for Chet to pay them both ten dollars . He had, after all, lost his bet.
The woman who had been with Kate and Suzan walked toward Johnny. She had an amused look on her face.
He stopped and raised an eyebrow. The woman just smiled and put a piece of paper in his pocket.
“I heard you like bowling. So do I. Give me a call when your hands are healed. My name is Melinda.”
She kissed him on the cheek and left without a glance.
John Gage just stood there for a moment, slowly trying to process what had just happened. His handsome face broke into a big smile and he left Rampart whistling.
“Well what do you know? It wasn’t such a bad day after all!
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