Hi. So, this is it. I just wanted to thank everyone who's read this and taken the time to review. I also wanted to thank those people who just took the time to read it. You've stuck with me so there must have been a few redeeming qualities to it.
Just so you know, I really suck at endings. That's why my stories rarely finish. Let me know what you think.
The helicopter landed with barely a bump. Then they were throwing the doors open. Dixie and Dr. Brackett were waiting outside with a gurney that they promptly pushed forward. The members of A shift lifted their injured comrade and gently placed the Stokes on top of the gurney. The Rangers had stayed behind in the clearing, intent on continuing their search for Roy's rescuers.
"Let's go," Dr. Brackett barked as they ducked to avoid the rotating blades and ran towards the elevator. It was a tight fit but all six members of A shift made the trip to the emergency room along with Dixie and Dr. Brackett. The ride was silent as the doctor examined Roy for himself. The man's body was twitching and flinching slightly. He wasn't sure if it was from pain or cold or shock. Roy was certainly suffering from all three to some degree.
"I'm going to want to hear this story when we're through," Kelly Brackett muttered as he pulled the blanket back look at Roy closer. The bell dinged and the elevator door slid open. "Let's get him in Exam 2."
"What kind of butcher did this?" Dr. Brackett asked as he cut the bandages away from the exit wound. The work was below remedial. It was something he would have expected as a last resort. But then, until he'd heard the entire story for all he knew it could have been. Roy's breath hitched as he touched the thickened skin.
"I wasn't there when Roy was shot," Johnny said, feeling lower than low. "Whoever found him in the river did it."
"Dix, I'm going to need x-rays, do a full body series so we can make sure it's only his arm that's broken. I also want bloods sent to the lab immediately," Dr. Brackett barked as he palpated the burn and then the abrasions. The rest of A shift had followed them into the room and were standing around the periphery just watching and listening. Johnny was standing beside the bed after helping transport Roy from the gurney to the bed. Now that he'd found his partner, he wasn't about to let him out of his sight now.
Dixie went to the phone and made the call for the portable x-ray and then collected the supplies she'd need to collect the blood samples. Dr. Brackett turned the over head light on and was systematically working his way over Roy's battered body. Roy's muscles trembled under his fingers. His face was placid, not reacting at all to what was going on around him.
"What happened?" Kelly asked as he carefully cleaned each and every mark he found. As much as he wanted to spend his time on the burn he knew he had to make sure everything else was taken care of. The burn was ugly as hell but it wasn't going to get any worse. Not in the next ten minutes anyway.
"We were up in the mountains. We were in different areas so I didn't know he'd been shot. I don't know when it happened. I just know he didn't come back to camp that night. He spent some time in the river before someone pulled him out. I don't know how long that took either," Johnny said. He was feeling very helpless, standing beside his friend. There were so many questions that needed to be answered.
"Okay," Dr. Brackett said as he worked. His hands were moving quickly and efficiently while his mind ran through the list of things they needed to do and placing them in order of importance. "Hang another IV, Dix. D5W, we need to keep him hydrated. Have the OR standing by. Can you also get a new set of vitals?"
"I'll do that, Doc," Johnny said. It was something he could do, something to keep his mind occupied instead of running through all the worst case scenarios. Small sounds were escaping from Roy's partially opened lips but there didn't appear to be any awareness behind them.
"Thanks, John," Dr. Brackett said. He was still concentrating on the injuries and didn't bother to look up.
Johnny accepted the stethoscope and BP cuff Dixie handed him on her way by to the phone again. She had the bloods in her hand and was going to drop them off at the lab personally once she had the OR lined up. Quickly, Johnny placed the cuff on Roy's left arm and pumped it up.
"How's he doing?" Hank called from the corner. He hated standing still. He also knew he had to phone home and let Joanne know what was going on besides.
"He's stable so far," Dr. Brackett responded, still intent on his exam. "The OR is just to try to clean up this mess," he added, indicating the burn mark.
"I'll go phone Joanne. She must be frantic by now," Hank said as he reluctantly left the room. He was followed shortly by Dixie on her way to the lab.
"Has he been conscious at all?" Dr. Brackett asked. He'd reached the burn and paused to look at the younger paramedic's pale face.
"Yeah, for a few minutes but I think the pain's too much. He passed out again," Johnny responded. "Pulse 100, BP 80/50 and respirations 12."
"Thanks. Push that IV in, would you?" Brackett suggested. Since Dixie was gone to the lab, he moved over to the shelves and extracted a bottle of morphine. It may be the pain keeping the senior paramedic unconscious. He could just imagine how bad it would be given the state of his injuries. Filling a syringe with the minimum dosage, Kelly turned back to Roy and put it in the port on his IV. "This should help."
Within a few minutes Roy's eyes began to flutter. Johnny inched closer, practically holding his breath again. Just then the x-ray cart came in followed by an x-ray technician.
"We're going to have to clear the room, boys, while he takes the pictures," Dr. Brackett said. He was sure Roy was going to be okay for just a few minutes. "Take a full body series," he instructed the tech as he escorted the firemen out the door.
Johnny paced by the door, the entire time the tech was inside. He wanted desperately to be there when Roy woke up again. Hank joined the little huddle of people.
"I just talked to Joanne. She's on her way in," he told them. The conversation hadn't been a lot of fun. His wife had called her earlier so she knew Roy was in trouble. Joanne had been a little hot on the phone, until she found out that her husband was in the hospital. Then she cooled down immediately and started to deal with the situation.
"I talked to division as well. They've been in contact with the Rangers, Jaime and Byrnes. They lost the trail. They're going to spend as much time as they can on searching the general area but with it being hunting season, time is in short supply," Hank added. A general murmur of disappointment passed through the men. At the very least they'd have liked to thank whoever had saved Roy's life.
"Thanks, Cap," Johnny responded. He supposed he should have been the one to call Joanne but his only concern at the moment was lying sprawled on the bed beyond the door. Someday when he had more time, he was going to go back up there and see if he could find the person or people himself. He owed them a debt he could never replay.
"He's going to be okay, Johnny," Dr. Brackett assured him. The door opened and the x-ray tech and his machine backed out.
"We'll get these back to you as soon as possible," the tech assured Dr. Brackett as he pushed the machine toward the elevator.
"Thanks," Dr. Brackett said as he headed back inside.
"Hi, Doc," Roy said from the bed. His voice was quiet and hoarse. His blue eyes were clear and tracking their movements. Clearly he was aware of what was going on.
"Hi, Roy, how are you feeling?" Dr. Brackett asked as he quickly crossed the distance to the bed. Automatically he grasped Roy's left arm and began monitoring his pulse. It felt so good to see the paramedic awake.
"Better," Roy responded. He felt more awake and aware than he had since getting shot. "I gather you gave me some morphine?"
"Yes, as well as antibiotics and a vast amount of fluids. We're getting ready to send you up to the OR once we get the x-rays back," Dr. Brackett briefed him. Now that the drug had kicked in, the man was visibly more relaxed. His muscles were no longer twitching or trembling. The thin sheen of sweat that had covered his pale face was starting to dry. Why had he waited so long to give the man pain medication? Brackett wondered to himself. He knew he'd been concentrating on the wounds and that the pain responses actually helped him to identify them better. The knowledge did little to appease his conscious.
"Where's Joanne?" Roy asked. He'd seen Johnny and so didn't have to ask about his partner. The younger paramedic had taken up his position by the bedside. The other firemen were hovering a few feet back. All five of them had huge grins plastered on their faces.
"I just called her, she's on her way in," Hank assured him. "Do you remember anything that's happened over the last couple of days?"
"Days?" Roy parroted. He felt his world shift a little to the left. Had it really been days?
"Yeah," Johnny said. Unconsciously he rested his hand on his partner's shoulder. He needed to know that he was here and that he was okay.
"Wow," was the only thing he could come up with. Blinking his blue eyes, Roy's line of sight came to rest on Johnny's face. His partner looked tired and haggard. Maybe it really had been a few days. Joanne must be a mess. "Sorry about that."
Johnny chuckled despite himself. Relief flowed through his body and mind, leaving him suddenly exhausted and a little shaky. It had been quite the trip. He was going to need a day or two to recuperate.
"You need some sleep, junior," Roy said. He was starting to feel really tired himself. He wanted to stay awake for Joanne's arrival but his body refused. His eyes fluttered and then closed. A deep sigh slipped through his lips as he gave into oblivion.
It took a little while but eventually they had Roy's arm properly set and casted and his wounds debrided and cleaned up as best they could. The senior paramedic was then moved to recovery to allow him to wake from the aesthetic naturally.
The firemen and Joanne hung around in the recovery waiting room. Joanne had been frantic but now she was calmer as she sat beside Johnny, their hands intertwined in fear and the need for comfort.
"Thank you for finding him," Joanne finally said. She could see from Johnny's face how hard the whole experience had been on him. Her husband's partner had been suffering his lose for days while she'd just found out this morning. She'd had a lot less time to worry.
"I'd love to be able to take the credit but it was a fluke. We were looking for water when we found him beside the stream. If it hadn't been for the Rangers that were leading us, we might never have found him," Johnny admitted, his head hung down between his shoulders.
"You still brought him home. Thank you," Joanne said as she gripped his hand a little tighter.
Just then the recovery nurse came into the room. Since the only people in the room were huddled together, she guessed that they were all here for her patient. "Mr. DeSoto?" She called, just to make sure.
"Yes?" Joanne said, standing up. Her heart was in her throat.
"He's awake. We're just moving him into a room for a night of observation. I'll let you know when you can see him," the nurse informed them.
"Thank goodness," Joanne breathed. The men surrounding her also visibly sagged in relief. Johnny was forced to sink back into his chair as he knees became weak.
"Just give us a few minutes," the nurse said before excusing herself from the room.
Those few minutes seemed to last an eternity. Finally, the nurse returned and ushered the group toward a private room further down the hall.
Opening the door, Joanne stepped inside, closely followed by Johnny and the other firemen. A small gasp escaped her when she saw her husband lying peacefully under the white sheets. His eyes were closed and his mouth slightly open as if he were asleep.
"Roy?" she called out hesitantly as she covered the ground between the door and the bed.
Instantly Roy's eyes were open and he was searching for his wife's face. A smile spread across his features as he found her standing beside his bed with the others gathered around behind her.
"Hi," he said quietly. The morphine had taken off the edge of the pain from his various wounds. Now that the surgeons had worked on the burn over the exit wound his skin wasn't nearly as tight so it didn't send waves of pain through him. Unless he moved wrong which he was being careful not to do. His hand was itchy under the cast but that was a minor inconvenience. Some of his other scrapes stung a bit under the pyjamas the staff had put on him. He was rather chagrined to find out he'd arrived in his boxer shorts and nothing else. He was sure there was a story behind that but he wasn't sure he wanted to know the details.
Joanne pulled the lone chair up beside the bed. Carefully she took hold of Roy's hand and brought it to her lips. "How are you?" she asked when she could find her voice.
"Better," Roy responded, smiling at his friends hovering in the background. The pallor of Johnny's face and the exhaustion on his face concerned him. He had no idea how hard the last few days had been on his partner.
"Now that we know you're okay, Roy, we'd better head home. We're going to be on shift in two days and need to get some sleep," Hank said. He knew despite being released from the hospital, Roy would not be joining them for a couple of weeks. The cast on his arm said as much as did the surgery he'd just had done.
"Sure thing, Cap," Roy responded, a crooked sort of grin playing across his features. There was no way he could ever repay what these men had done for him. There were no words to express how much they meant to him. Instead, he nodded that he understood and tried to keep the tears out of his eyes. That would really freak them out. "Thanks for everything."
"No problem. We'll talk to you tomorrow." Mike, Marco and Chet said their goodbyes and followed their captain out the door.
"Hey, junior, why don't you go home and get some sleep too? You look like hell," Roy said taking in the stubble on Johnny's cheeks, the dark circles under his eyes and the haunted look in his brown eyes.
"Are you sure?" Johnny asked. He wasn't quite ready to leave his partner. He'd only just found him after days of fear and worry. It had been hard enough to let him go into surgery without being there to watch over him.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll probably be asleep most of the time anyway," Roy assured him. All ready, his eyes were starting to get heavy again. Whether that was from his injuries, the morphine or from exposure he wasn't sure. At the moment he didn't really care. Johnny was safe, Joanne was with him and he was back in civilization. Nothing else really mattered.
"Okay, well, I'll come back later," Johnny said, suddenly feeling deflated and exhausted himself. He wasn't even sure he had enough energy to make it out the front door. Then he realized he didn't have a vehicle. Oh, well, he'd figure that out. Maybe Dixie could give him a ride. He turned to leave, hesitation in his steps and his body language.
"Hey, Johnny," Roy called out to him. The young paramedic stopped and half-turned toward his friend. "Thanks for getting me home in one piece, sort of."
"Well, you're sort of welcome," Johnny replied, a smile tugging at his lips. As he watched Roy's eyes closed and he sighed deeply as he fell back asleep. Joanne took a moment to plant a gentle kiss on Roy's forehead before she followed Johnny out of the room.
"Come on, John, I'll give you a ride home. I have to go get the kids from the neighbours. I just had to see for myself that he was okay," she explained as she guided the clearly exhausted man down the hallway. He'd helped Roy make it home. Now it was time for her to make sure this younger man made his way home safely too.
"Are you sure?" Johnny asked. He was having a little trouble focusing his eyes. They were a little on the blurry side. He knew it was from exhaustion. He'd probably had all of four hours of sleep since Roy's disappearance.
"I'd give you a ride anytime, John. You're my hero. I'm sure Roy and the kids would agree."
Unsure of how to respond to that, Johnny kept quiet and allowed his best friend's wife to lead him toward the door. Bed suddenly sounded like a very good idea. No more camping trips for a while, that was for sure. Distantly he wondered about Roy's rescuers and what was going to happen to all their camping gear. He decided that was going to have to wait for another day. Right now, going home, knowing Roy was okay was enough.
"Thanks," he said to the woman. Then they left Rampart and headed home.