|Things Aren't Always What They Seem
Author: Piscean6724 PM
Station 51 seems to be responding to quite a few arson fires. Could Johnny's new flame hold the key? Warning: abuse themesRated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - J. Gage & D. McCall - Chapters: 32 - Words: 62,480 - Reviews: 91 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 04-07-12 - Published: 03-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7930458
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Characters of Emergency! belong to Mark VII and Universal Studios. All original characters belong to the author.
Warning: contains depictions of abuse
Things Aren't Always What They Seem
The hot July sun was beating down on Toby as he peddled his bike along the dirt path towards his target. Although he was only 14 years old he was already nearly six feet tall and somewhat clumsy. Determination colored his face and anger took root in his feet and legs as he peddled faster; replaying the harsh words his father seemed to enjoy spewing at him.
Not a man
He reached up to wipe the sweat off his brow then grabbed the handlebar with both hands as he coasted down the dirt hill. The wind had picked up some which was perfect for what he had planned. His breaths came in short spurts though not from exertion. An anticipatory grin spread over his face; knowing he was about to satisfy a need he didn't fully understand.
The sound of the alarm brought the firemen of the small station running. They climbed on board the big red engine and rushed to the scene of the brush fire. Wind carried the thick smoke in the direction of the arriving crew, burning their eyes and eliciting a few coughs. Pulling to a stop, Fireman Owens exited the engine and began following his Captain's orders. He was a tall man of six feet four inches and he was usually the first to attack a fire. He hadn't always seemed so aggressive but he was no longer as careful since becoming a widower two years ago. The crew battled the blaze for over an hour before it finally succumbed to their efforts. Fortunately, it had not caused any serious damage. The problem was that this area was fairly remote so the chances of this being an accidental fire were slim to none. Also, the location was close enough to his home to give him a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Fireman Owens walked around the perimeter of the burned out vegetation ensuring that no hotspots remained. While scanning the area, he saw a couple of things that made his soul quake. Bicycle tracks and size 11 shoe prints were still evident in a few spots. No one else noticed and he deliberately walked with a shuffling motion over them so as to obliterate the evidence. He recognized the shoe pattern and he would take care of this latest episode in his own way….as soon as he got home.
Two days later, Toby couldn't sleep. His back was still striped from his father's belt and the pain woke him each time he rolled over. He lay awake in the early morning hours thinking about what his father had said to him when he had returned from the station after the brush fire. He had walked into Toby's room with fire-red eyes and slammed the door.
"Take off your shirt and face the wall."
Toby had been here before so he knew what was coming. He removed his shirt and placed both hands in front of him, leaning against the wall. He gritted his teeth and waited.
"So you still want to be a firebug, huh?" (thwack) "Damn you, Toby Owens!" (thwack) "I ought to lock you in a shed" (thwack) "and set it" (thwack) "on fire so you'll know how it feels." (thwack)
I hate you, you bastard! Toby didn't dare say the words out loud. The punishment he was getting was bad enough. If he said what he really wanted to say then he'd get more for sure. You can't stop me but one day, I'll stop you. I swear I'll make you pay!
The engine pulled up to the scene of a warehouse fire. Fireman Owens, as always, was the first to enter carrying the hose on his shoulder with his crewmates following close behind. Smoke billowed out of the old building and it creaked and groaned as if protesting the agony. As Owens burst through the entrance he tripped and fell through the collapsed floor; plummeting into a pit of burning debris twelve feet below. Owens shift mates managed to stop before they too fell. There was neither time nor reason to attempt a rescue. This fire would be Owen's last.
Standing among the crowd that had gathered, Toby stood in astonishment. It had worked. He felt a sudden rush of euphoria as he watched his tormentor perish. He felt no remorse. Nothing but a sense of elation at least a hundred times the feeling of power he'd felt when he set his first fire six years earlier. He smiled as he turned and walked away from the rubble; pride, strength and pure ecstasy coursing through his body as he lumbered home. Over the next few days and weeks he'd show the appropriate amount of grief for his now deceased father, at least publically. But it wouldn't be long before his insatiable appetite for the exhilaration he had felt would return and he would be compelled to feed it.
Dixie exhaled audibly, "Johnny, this little sting doesn't hurt as bad as the injury itself. You of all people should know that by now. So, lie back down and zip it!"
John Gage was one of the best rescue men and paramedics in the county, maybe even the state of California, but he did not handle pain inflicted during medical treatment well at all. He especially hated needles and was happy that this particular injury didn't require a shot.
The door opened and a young nurse stood halfway in the room. "Ms. McCall, Dr. Early needs you in treatment 3 as soon as possible."
Johnny turned to see the source of the angelic voice he heard and a huge grin spread across his face. He bent his right elbow above and behind his head and rested his head in his hand; the pain from a moment ago all but forgotten. His actions did not go unnoticed by Dixie and she rolled her eyes at the grinning paramedic.
"Thank you, Elaine. Will you finish up here please?"
Dixie gave a slight wink to John as she turned to leave the room. "I'll be in 3 if you need anything….oh and he's free to go when you get his arm bandaged."
"Yes, Ms. McCall."
Elaine was a very pretty petite brunette with stunning sea foam green eyes. But a shadow seemed to cloud those eyes and Johnny assumed he must be the cause. Elaine made no attempt to carry on small talk during the few minutes it took to finish bandaging him up. Her touch was gentle and Johnny felt a flush spread upwards from his chest to his face as her graceful hands began wrapping his forearm; she was both beautiful and mysterious. He glanced at her left hand and noted she wore no jewelry; specifically no wedding band and no engagement ring.
"Hi, I'm John Gage."
Elaine glanced up briefly and gave a timid smile before returning to the job at hand. "Elaine," was all she offered as she finished securing the bandage.
Johnny looked down at the floor and exhaled. He knew rejection and he could tell that she was not the least bit interested in him.
"All done." She said turning toward the treatment room door.
He gave a quick negative shake of his head while a somewhat sarcastic grin replaced the formerly flirtatious one. He jumped off the gurney and walked silently behind her towards the exit.
Elaine opened the door without making eye contact with him but as he exited she said, barely above a whisper, "You can call me Lainie."
The remark caught him off guard and he couldn't stop his crooked grin from spreading across his handsome face. "Ok, thanks for the bandage. Maybe I'll …ah…see you around….Lainie."
"Ready to roll, Junior?"
Roy was accustomed to waiting patiently for his partner to be treated in the ER of Rampart. Johnny was the best rescue man he knew and because of that, he often had to be treated for injuries sustained during a run. Although this episode did not involve a rescue, it was work related. They had been toned out to a structure fire. As it turned out the house was abandoned so there were no victims to be saved. Roy and Johnny were on hoses when the younger paramedic had stumbled over some old broken pieces of furniture and received a painful abrasion and burn. It wasn't enough to have him sent home but it did need to be looked at by a doctor so he could be cleared to work the rest of the shift. And now Roy had the unenviable task of telling him the suspected cause of the fire that got him injured.
The two paramedics slammed their doors simultaneously and Johnny reached, instinctively with his left hand, for the microphone to notify dispatch that they were available. He winced slightly as he stretched his arm out completely.
"Squad 51 available." He then guardedly replaced the microphone.
"Johnny, you're not gonna like what I'm about to tell you." Roy started the conversation as he pulled away from the ER entrance heading back to the station.
"Huh? About what?" Johnny genuinely had no idea where this conversation was going.
"About that fire. Marco found a new partially filled can of lighter fluid in the back of the house. The house hasn't had electricity connected in a couple of years so you know what that means."
"Aw, hell." Johnny looked out his window and let the wind rustle through his hair before he continued. "You know, Roy, I don't mind getting hurt on a fire or rescue call that's legitimate. But it really pisses me off to know that somebody did that – deliberately – and I got hurt. I mean, it ain't bad, I know, but what if it had been? I mean, what if one of us had been hurt so badly he couldn't go back to work…..or worse."
He looked again at the white bandage on his arm and just shook his head in frustration.
"I know, I know" Roy lamented. "I'm with you on that. Plus, it's the second one in that area in the last couple of weeks on OUR shift. Who knows, maybe there have been others when the other guys were on shift. It's just ridiculous."
"Yea," was all Johnny could manage as he stared out the windshield; his mind already drifting back to Lainie. Maybe she's just shy or something…..hmmm….she did tell me I could call her by her nickname so that's a good sign. But why did she seem so distant? Man, I could stare into those eyes for….
Roy's slamming door brought him back to the present and he realized he was sitting alone in the squad inside the apparatus bay daydreaming. Shit, hope Chet didn't see that, he thought to himself as he exited the squad and headed toward the dayroom.
"Arm ok, John?" Cap was in his office working on the paper work from their last run. Johnny was thankful his captain had saved him from facing Chet – in case Chet had seen him sitting in the squad alone with his own thoughts.
"Yea, Cap, it's fine. I'm just sore about the whole thing." He stood leaning against the door frame looking down at Hank; arms crossed in front of him.
Captain Stanley leaned back in his chair and placed his right hand on the armrest as he looked up at John. "So, Roy told you what Marco found, huh?"
"Yea, that's two for our shift in that area recently. Any of the other shifts had any?"
Hank blew out a sigh. He hadn't realized anyone in his crew had caught on to the similarity between the call today and the one a few shifts ago.
"C had one a about a week ago. Same thing…unoccupied dwelling…..lighter fluid for an accelerant."
Johnny let out a low whistle. "Something's up, Cap."
"Yea, John. I have that same feeling."