Title: Bedside Manner
Words: 2300+ words, Complete, betaed by ldyanne
Summary: Great. He wasn't sure if he was worried for his partner or glad. Either way, he was going to kill him.
Spoilers: Post "Insomnia", third season.
Author's Notes: LOL. Yes, I know. Very random. This was a fandom I got into very late. I remembered watching Emergency! when it was on syndication but couldn't remember specifics or why I liked it. Hulu dot com has seasons one to four online in really good quality. In a fit of nostalgia and needing a mental health break of er…a few weeks (LOL), I had a marathon and well…out came a fic or two or three, maybe four.
Updated 3/22/09 8:00EST: The spacing was wacky. All fixed now! Sorry!
Now he couldn't sleep.
Damn it, Johnny.
Roy DeSoto never realized how quiet the station house could get until now. Even when Engine 51 was out on a run, the firehouse usually still echoed with activity from the younger half of the paramedic team. There would have been a mop slapping wetly on the floor, dishes clinking (because he'd always lose in cards, no poker face) or something that was just loud enough to remind Roy just how not empty the firehouse was.
Except John Gage wasn't here right now.
"Ah Geez," Roy muttered and levered off the bed he was lying on for the past five minutes. He grimaced at the chill that came in when the guys went out. He was glad he didn't take his turnout pants or boots off after all. They protected him from what he suspected was an icy floor.
Roy shuffled out of the dorm. He ran a hand through his hair and could have sworn there were a few strands of red hair in his fist. His partner was going to age him before his time. He stared at the closed garage door and wondered, for the tenth time, if he should have radioed dispatch after all, embarrassing or not. Roy waited for the alarms to soundagain, this time for Squad 51 for maybe a Code I (thank God there wasn't one though) or a request for backup. Anything that told Roy he was stupid for not calling Engine 51 back before because their youngest member of the squad, his once insomniac partner, was clinging to the end of Big Red, lightly sleeping away.
There could be a number of reasons why no one was calling LA dispatch right now, Roy reasoned as he tried to ignore the fact he was pacing the empty spot where the Crown was parked before.
Engine 51 was called out to a fire. Even though it was just a rubbish fire, civilian lives were possibly at risk. Fire needed to be a priority, being they were all firemen, after all. John was a grown boy (although there were times Roy wanted to double-check Gage's records). Mike, Chet or Marco would have discovered their friend by now. They were probably ribbing John, making him gear up and they would be back soon with his partner soot covered, sleepy and embarrassed.
Roy nodded to himself. He'd always prided himself in being a man of reason (someone in this team needed to be). He gave himself a chuckle, the squad car a pat and a rueful grin and shuffled back to bed. He pulled off his boots, his turnout pants and set them back on the floor in a ready position. With a sigh, he tugged the covers back over himself. With a yawn, another chuckle—that Johnny cracks him up sometimes—and Roy's eyes drifted shut.
Johnny could have fallen off the back and nobody knew.
Roy's eyes flew open.
The pants and boots were back on within seconds. He was faster than if Squad 51 was actually called out on a run.
Roy stood by the dispatch phone this time. He worked his jaw as he considered the phone. Call? Not call? What could he tell LA? Hi, I think my partner hitchhiked a ride on 51. LA, I think my partner is a sack of broken bones between here and the freeway. Can you patch me through to Engine 51 because I think my partner is napping in the back?
Maybe he should just radio Rampart and advise them of a Code I after all. A possible injured firefighter on the freeway because his partner decided not to radio ahead about him.
The worried frown twisted to a scowl and Roy wasn't sure if it was for him or the phone. Before he could make up his mind though, he heard the rumbling of the fire truck and he slapped his hand on the garage door opener so they wouldn't have to stop and do it themselves.
Roy forced himself to stand still, but his heels bounced in tiny rocking motions as he watched as the engine rolled back into the station. Big Red sighed as Mike eased her into her parking spot. Roy counted the men getting out of the cabin.
One, two, three…Chet leapt down from the back. That makes four.
"Hey, got a run?" Marco greeted as he sighted Roy by the map.
"No, I thought…well…figured just in case…" Roy managed as he eyed the four dirty faces. "Good run?"
Chet yawned as he leaned against the passenger side of the squad car. "Dumb owner threw out hot grease into the trash." The mustache wiggled into a frown.
Marco groaned. "There was a lot of traffic before! Mike here was swerving and braking…"
"S-swerving?" Roy stammered. He eyed the back of the truck but no one else emerged.
"A van nearly hit us too," Mike added.
The floor tipped underneath him. "Van?" Roy stuttered.
"Zipped right by us. Had to do a complete 180. Thought for sure we would hit it."
"Hey, weren't you planning on taking Gage with you if there was a run?" Chet pressed his face against the passenger window and peered into the squad car. "What? You left him sleeping in bed?"
Ice ran down his arms. "W-what?" Roy stammered. "No. I—Isn't he with you?"
Something lumped in his gut when all four stared blankly back at him.
"Us?" Chet made a face like he smelled gas. "Why would he be with us?"
Oh God. Roy gestured towards the back of the truck with both hands. "He…he was in the back. I t-tried to…" Roy stared at them. "You didn't see him?"
"Who?" Marco asked. He leaned out and studied the direction Roy was waving at. His dark brow rose. "Johnny? Why would we see him?"
"H-he…" Roy was already zipping up his sweater, going around for the driver door. "When you guys got that call…He was riding in the back—You…you really didn't see him?"
Chet grimaced. "The back? Oh, that's not good."
"Why did you let him climb back there for?" Cap wanted to know. "Dispatch only called for an engine."
Roy missed the door handle a few times trying to climb into the cab. "I thought…he was just…I tried to tell him, but…" Why wouldn't the door open?
Roy thought he could have ripped the door open when it finally yielded. He stuck one leg in, already reaching to close the door, grab the key in the ignition. "It was Fifth, right? What road did you take? Call ahead to Rampart. Maybe I can—"
Roy halted, his left leg in midair, about to be pulled into the squad. Another snicker, this time, of all people, from Mike. Roy scrambled out and glared over the top of the squad at Chet, who was grinning that usual grin when he managed to pull another fast one over on John.
Under Roy's glower, Chet threw back his head and howled. He pounded the roof with a palm repeatedly.
"Aw man, you should look at yourself in the mirror!" Chet crowed. He slapped a hand on Mike's arm. "See? What did I tell ya?"
"I liked the van part. That was a good idea, Cap," Marco quipped.
Roy stared at his captain in dismay. "Cap? Not you, too?"
The captain coughed into a fist that also served to hide the grin he couldn't quite manage to contain. His thick brow furrowed but the barely suppressed smirk contradicted him.
"He's fine, Roy. Johnny's on the hose bed."
Roy sagged. He rested his forehead on the top of the door and exhaled in one big whoosh. He'd be mad about the chortles later.
The captain's smile flattened. "Luckily, someone noticed him in the side mirror and we hustled him into the cab, otherwise we would be calling Rampart right now."
"After the fire was put out, we found him up on the hoses. No one could wake him up," Mike supplied. At Roy's look, Mike added, "I drove back real slow."
Chet grunted. "You should have just radioed us and let us know. Gage there nearly became road kill."
Roy ignored him as he wove past them—he couldn't believe even Mike was in on it, too—and climbed up to the chassis of the engine and craned to see into the piles of coiled hoses.
There was John, curled on top of the two inches, face buried into the coarse, white coils of hose and a turnout coat tossed over him. Only the dark mess of unruly hair and a tanned cheek was visible.
Sleeping. Just sleeping. After days of not-insomnia as John had claimed, his partner finally nodded off to a night call for a lousy one-alarm trash fire.
Roy wasn't sure if he wanted to throttle his friend or crawl back into bed.
Four other faces appeared above the hose bed and peered in.
"Aw, will you just look at that?" Chet pretended to sigh. "Sleeping like a baby. You know, that Stokes would have worked. It was pure genius. Look at him!"
Roy rolled his eyes. Fortunately, the rescue basket everyone hung above John's bed was gone by the time they returned from Rampart, but Roy remembered hearing his partner's outraged yelp when he found the mobile of butterflies hanging inside his locker.
"Let's get him back in bed," Cap advised as he reached in, ready to pull John out.
"He looks comfortable," Marco noted. "At least he's sleeping now."
Roy winced but agreed. It was amusing and yet disturbing just how the years melted away in sleep. John mumbled something, burrowed deeper into the coat and snored softly.
"We can't leave him up here either," Cap pointed out. "What if we get another run?"
"Chet could always stay up here again," Marco suggested. Mike snorted.
"Hey, I just wanted to make sure Gage didn't roll out and hit the traffic behind us," Chet grumbled. "Scrawny thing like him will fly right off the truck. He could have killed someone."
Roy squinted at the dirty thick outerwear pulled up over John's ear. He reached over and lifted the collar a little. John grumbled and wiggled in deeper. "Isn't this your coat?"
"Come on, guys, let's get our boy down." Cap pointed at the ground and stepped down from the engine, waiting, his arms folded because he sure as hell wasn't going to help.
"And hear him complain about him not being able to sleep?" Chet complained. "I say leave him up here!"
Roy glowered at the stocky firefighter.
Chet threw up his arms. "All right. All right." Grumbling, Chet heaved and swung his leg up and over into the chassis. He gave John a light slap on the general area of his shoulder.
"Gage. Up and at 'em."
A sleepy hand fumbled out from under the coat and swatted Chet's hand away.
Roy fidgeted at the eyes directed at him. He smiled but it died quickly at the expectant faces. He cleared his throat. "Hey, Johnny? Hey…time to wake up." He reached over and settled a hand on the dark hair.
There was a mumbled "Go away" and nothing more.
There was a series of whistles and a "Hey, Johnny" from Mike that earned him a few stares.
"He's not a dog, Mike. Nowhere nearly as smart as one," Chet snorted. He grinned and his mustache stretched almost from ear to ear. "I got it." Chet cupped his hands over his mouth and took a deep breath before he bellowed into John's ear.
"Rampart to Squad 51! I need vitals!"
John woke with a start, sat up in a flail of hands that smacked Chet right in the mouth. Chet went "Oof" and dropped flat on his back on the hose bed, his head saved from a sound hit on the rails by Marco's quick thinking.
"BP's 120 over 80. Respiration's…" John blinked blearily at his surroundings. "Oh hey, guys."
Cap chuckled. He yawned into a loose fist. "Nice job, Kelly. Johnny, get down from there."
Johnny sat cross-legged on the hose beds, his hands on his knees, squinting as if he wasn't sure what he was seeing was real. He looked over to Chet with his hand smashed over his mouth, then to Roy who was still trying to decide whether this was a bad dream or not.
"Uh…so…" John grinned brightly; his eyes still a sleepy and cloudy brown. "What's up?"
"You think you can sleep now, Gage?" Chet griped as he gave a half-hearted shove at John that sent him flopping down on his bed.
"Chet," John grumbled but whatever he was going to say was interrupted by an impressive yawn.
"I think that was a yes," Marco piped up as he sank into his own bed. Cap stifled a snicker from his side of the dorm.
Roy sighed. "No more insomnia, right, Johnny?"
"It wasn't insomnia," John insisted but even in the dark, Roy could see his partner knuckling one eye. Another yawn. "I just…(yawn)…needed some sleep."
"Well, so do we," Chet complained behind the brick partition that divided the sets of beds. "Go to bed."
"Aw, Chester, you do care."
A pillow sailed over and hit John squarely on the nose.
Roy rolled to his side and listened to the rest of 51 settle in for what was left of the night. It finally felt like the firehouse again and he thought it strange to find the collective murmurings and snores comforting. Roy spied John shifting to find a spot before a soft exhale announced John was sinking into sleep at long last. Finally. Roy's mouth twitched and he closed his eyes.
Only to open them again.
Roy stared at the ceiling, counted to a hundred, then to two, then he went through everything in the drug box. He counted to thousand this time.
Nothing. He was still wide-awake.
Roy groaned under his breath and slowly sat up. He sat at the edge of the bed, his arms down by his sides.
"Roy?" John's head popped out of the nest of blankets he collected around him. "What is it? What's the matter?"
Roy's shoulders slumped. "I can't sleep."
Pillows from all directions smacked him on the face.