Moments Like This
(Missing Scene from the episode "Surprise")
By Lizabeth S. Tucker
Roy DeSoto and Chet Kelly carried the elderly woman out of the apartment building on the stretcher. They ignored her feeble protests and only slowed as they turned left coming out of the building. They barely cleared the front of the place when the expected gas explosion occurred. They crouched, still moving, leaning their bodies over the stretcher to protect the woman.
Once safely behind the squad, Roy and Chet knelt. They waited for the series of explosions to end and for the debris to stop raining down on the street. Chet counted four separate blasts. He hoped his crewmates were also safely under cover. He was puzzled by the fact John Gage hadn't joined them at the squad.
"Roy, where's Gage?" When Roy didn't even look up at him, just continued taking the lady's vitals, he asked again. "Roy?"
Roy still didn't look at him, replying softly, "Johnny was on the third floor."
Chet jumped to his feet, looking back at the building. It was engulfed in flames, Engines 60 and 29 working their way from either side of the building. Chet glared down at Roy, infuriated by his lack of concern about his partner. Then he saw Roy's hands trembling as he fumbled with the stethoscope.
Chet laid his hand on Roy's shoulder. "We'll find him," Chet vowed. He ran to Captain Stanley for his assignment.
It was over an hour later before the fire was under control enough to allow the men of Station 51 to enter the building to search for their missing man. Marco and Chet led the way, hosing down the debris clogging the staircase to cool them off enough to handle with the gloves. Then Cap and Roy would toss the bigger pieces carefully out of the way, looking for signs of life.
"Gage!" Chet yelled, "Gage, you'd better not be dead!"
Marco saw Roy flinch and frowned. Marco, about to berate Chet, stopped abruptly. Chet, second man on the hose, walked into him. "Hold up. I thought I heard something."
They all stopped, not even breathing as they listened. All Roy heard at first was the creaking of the building. Then he heard it. "Johnny! John, answer me."
"H-here…I'm here." It was soft, barely loud enough to classify as a voice, but it was enough to energize the men into hurrying up down the hall. Chet and Marco yanked on the hose, dragging it further inside. They forced their way through the debris, the wood and bits of concrete, climbing over what they could, pulling aside what they couldn't.
"Here. Roy, here he is!" Marco turned the hose off, dropping it to the side. Chet knelt beside the hand showing under the collapsed banister. They carefully uncovered the rest of Johnny's arm, then his torso and head.
"Christ, Roy," Chet breathed, appalled at the sight of Johnny's bloody face.
"Johnny? Can you hear me?" Roy moved Chet aside, kneeling in his place.
"Where? Tell me where," Roy commanded, running his hands around his partner's head, his fingers gently probing for signs of severe damage.
"Leg. My right leg. Bad, Roy," Johnny panted, never opening his eyes which were clogged in blood.
"Where else? Johnny, where else?" Roy focused on his partner while the others carefully uncovered the rest of Johnny's body.
"Your head? Does your head hurt?"
"Face, just my face." Johnny's voice was getting stronger.
"I need to look at your eyes. Can you open them for me?"
Johnny slowly opened his eyes, trying to blink the encrusted blood away. Roy flashed his penlight in both, sighing in relief at the normal pupil response. "Looks good, partner. Now, I need to know if you lost consciousness at all."
"Ummm…I don't…maybe. Roy, it was so…it was dark and…hot…don't know."
"Okay, we'll go with yes for now.
"Had my helmet on this time."
Stanley chuckled. "Good job, John. Looks like it might have saved you some problems."
"Need a…helmet for legs."
"We'll see what we can do about that." Captain Stanley turned his attention to his other paramedic. "Roy, what have you found so far?"
"I know it looks bad, but I think the blood is from facial cuts only. I don't think he did any real damage here. The arms are in good shape, no breaks. Ribs are also good." Roy continued feeling down John's body, then stopped at the sight uncovered by Marco and Chet. "Uh, his right leg…" he took a deep breath. "His right leg is badly broken."
"How…bad?" Johnny asked. "Feels crushed."
"Give me a second to check, John, okay?" Roy responded.
"I know it's…bad now. You're callin' me…John."
Roy smiled faintly. "Johnny, look at me."
When Johnny opened his eyes, blinking the blood out of them, Roy continued. "This is gonna hurt like hell. You ready?"
Clenching his teeth, Johnny nodded. Roy felt his way around Johnny's pelvis and hips, then worked his way down Johnny's left leg. No breaks were found. Swallowing audibly, Roy moved to the crumpled mess that was his partner's right leg. He could see at least three discernable breaks between the ankle and the knee. He gently touched the knee and watched as Johnny tried to rise up. "Hold him down."
Chet took one shoulder while Marco took the other. Stanley held the injured paramedic's left leg down while Roy continued. By the time Roy got to Johnny's ankle, also broken, his partner was sobbing for him to stop.
Roy shakily wiped the sweat from his face. He told Marco what equipment he needed for John. "Okay, Johnny, I'm done with the examination. Take a breather."
"Roy, how bad is it?" Chet asked quietly.
"Three tib and fib breaks, luckily none through the skin. His kneecap may be cracked, I'm not sure. His ankle is broken also."
"A broken leg? That's all? That's not so bad," Chet said, relieved. "Is it?" he asked when he saw the concerned look on Roy's face.
Johnny answered for Roy. "Could be, Chet…bad enough…might have to…amp…amputate," he choked out. "Might get…get infec…fected."
Chet looked to Roy for confirmation and saw it in the stormy blue eyes. Marco and Stoker returned loaded down with equipment.
Roy gently touched his best friend's face. "Let's get you to Rampart. We'll worry about complications later, okay?"
"Yeah," the younger man answered. "'cause this splint job's…gonna be a bitch."
"Can't you give him something?" Marco whispered.
"I can't. With a possible head injury, Rampart wouldn't approve." Roy got on the biophone to Rampart, explained the situation and gave Johnny's vitals and current condition, receiving his orders.
Johnny was right. By the time Roy was done securing Johnny's leg, his ears were ringing from the screams and Chet was white faced. Johnny hadn't passed out until Roy was almost done. Marco walked away and quietly threw up. Captain Stanley had had to stop other firefighters from coming in the building, drawn by the screams of pain.
Roy held his hand out and watched it tremble. He looked up at his captain and smiled wryly. "Never had this problem until I met Johnny. Now I seem to do it all the time."
"This one was bad," Stanley retorted, holding his own hand out. "Mine's doing the same. Let's get him out of here."
The four men carefully put Johnny on the stretcher and carried him out of the building. Stoker followed, toting the remainder of the equipment. He looked at the unconscious paramedic. What he saw wasn't encouraging. He moved closer to Cap as they headed to the waiting ambulance. "How is he?"
Cap gave him a quick rundown and Mike winced. "It could've been worse, a lot worse."
"Yeah, I know." After Johnny was loaded into the ambulance with Roy in attendance, Mike admitted, "I thought he was dead."
Stanley sighed. "So did I."
The ambulance backed into the Rampart Emergency bay. Roy climbed out, holding the IV bag with one hand while helping with Johnny's stretcher with the other. Dr. Kelly Brackett was waiting at Treatment Room Three.
After Johnny was moved to the examination table, Brackett began his assessment of the paramedic while asking Roy questions. Johnny was conscious but not alert. The pain was sweeping over him in waves. He began to pull away, but even his own movement caused more pain. He began to whimper. Roy leaned down and whispered in Johnny's ear, gently touching his partner's forehead. He stilled.
Carol, also in the room, began cleaning Johnny's face, gently running the damp cloth over the blood encrusted skin. "Only a little longer, Johnny, then we'll be able to give you something that will take the pain away."
"Joy juice," Johnny murmured.
Carol smiled. She glanced at John's partner, who had stepped away from the exam table and was now leaning against the far wall. Roy was watching every move Brackett made, wincing at Johnny's moans. She moved to Roy's side, gently leading him out of the room. He continued looking over his shoulder but didn't resist her.
Trying to act like her supervisor, Carol soothed the distraught paramedic. "He'll be okay, Roy." Oh, dear, Carol thought, I wish Dixie was here instead of in a hospital room herself. She's so much better with these things. When he didn't respond, she tried again. "Roy?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry, Carol. What did you say?" Roy finally focused on the black nurse.
"I said Johnny will be fine. You know that, don't you?"
"I know he will, but…" Roy fumbled for the right words.
"Tell me you're not feeling guilty." When Roy's gaze fell away, she shook her head. She tried to think and act as Head Nurse Dixie McCall would. "You are! Why, Roy?"
"I left him inside. I mean, I knew it was about to blow. I could feel it."
"Well, not exactly. Chet and I carried this old woman out."
"And you hung around outside waiting for the explosion? Is that right?"
"Uh, no. It exploded right after Chet and I got out."
Carol bit her lip, nodding. "So while you were working, your partner was larking about?"
Roy's answer was sharp. "Of course not! He was checking the upper floors for occupants."
"I see," Carol replied. "Do you?"
She waited until Roy processed their conversation. With a wry smile, the paramedic nodded and Carol knew she had won through Roy's pending guilt trip over his partner being injured while he was hale and hearty.
She patted Roy on the arm before going back into the treatment room. Roy moved to the nurse's station and poured himself a cup of coffee while he waited for Brackett's verdict and for whoever was driving the squad to arrive.
"So the Pigeon's gonna be okay?" Chet Kelly asked again as he helped Roy and some nurses decorate for Dixie's "surprise" birthday party.
"Yep. Traction, a cast and lots of physical therapy, so he won't be back for a while but Brackett said they were clean breaks." Roy paused while running an extension cord along the wall to Johnny's cassette player. "I'm not complaining, mind you, but I don't understand how he not only survived, but got out with no burns and so few injuries."
Chet's smile faded as he considered what could have happened. "I don't know, Roy. I guess you could call it a miracle. It's moments like this that make you believe in a higher power."
"Yeah, I guess," Roy replied, never comfortable with religious talk. Shaking off the serious mood, the paramedic continued setting up the player. Although he had admonished his partner about having music at the birthday celebration, he felt that this would be Johnny's contribution. "He's upset that he'll miss the party."
Chet's eyes twinkled. "Tell him it was a better one since he wasn't there to obsess."
Roy laughed. "Not a chance. And you," he pointed his finger at his station mate. "Don't you bug him. At least give him a chance to recover before the Phantom makes an appearance."
"The Phantom doesn't strike until his Pigeon can appreciate the nuances of the attacks."
Brackett came in and spotted the firefighters amongst the women. "Roy!"
Roy's head jerked up. "Johnny?"
"Just wanted to let you know that there will be no complications providing he obeys the rules."
"Like that'll happen," Chet commented.
Brackett grinned, revealing the dimple near his mouth. "He'll obey in here. I'll make certain that his nurses are not overly impressed by the Gage charisma."
Roy breathed a sigh of relief. "Great!"
The doctor rolled his sleeves up. "Now, let's get this party set up and started before Dixie decides to come and help."
Thanks to Jackie for beta reading my story and giving me some medical help. All mistakes are mine!
The original Emergency! episode "Surprise" was written by Preston Woods.