A/N: Completely unbetaed. Totally farcical. Enjoy!

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'D' is for Dirty

The engine was filthy, the squad was filthy, and all six men were sooty and grimy nearly beyond recognition. The brush fire was small, as such things go, but had nearly gotten away from them. They beat it, though, with judicious application of water applied to the head of the fire, elbow grease applied to Pulaski and Macleod tools, and one extremely well-timed drop from a helicopter. Incident command had released them at 0515, just as the sun was starting to come up. They'd been there since 0900 the previous morning.

Roy was tempted to let Johnny drive the squad for once, since Gage would be less likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Cap had to wake Stoker up when they stopped at a stop sign just a few blocks from the station.

"Waiting for that thing to turn green, Stoker?"

Mike snapped out of his daze, or doze, and pulled forwards. "Sorry."

Marco and Chet were asleep in the cab. Chet had drooled just enough to leave a tell-tale trail through the soot on his face, but nobody had the energy to make an issue of it.

Mike backed the engine into the bay at 0552, and the squad pulled in as well. Everyone got out of the vehicles and gathered between them, as was their custom after a long incident.

"Listen up, men. DeSoto, Gage, you're up first for the shower; you're more likely to get another call this morning than we are. Then Stoker, Lopez, Kelly, and me. The squad is stood down till 0600, and the engine till 0615, so make it snappy. Stoker, Lopez, clean up the vehicles; Kelly, you and I are hanging hoses. Everyone behave—we're almost done. Dismissed."

Mike hosed down the engine, and then the squad. He and Marco washed them from top to bottom with soapy water on long brushes. Marco rinsed the vehicles down. The water pouring down the cement apron in front of the station and into the drains running down the center of the floor was a dull gray, carrying away the thick layer of soot that had covered everything near the brush fire.

Roy took his three minutes in the shower. It was just enough time to get the visible soot off, but he knew Joanne would shoo him into the downstairs shower by the back door the instant he got home. He watched the disturbingly dark water sheeting down the walls of the white shower stall, thinking, not for the first time, that they should just put gray porcelain in fire station bathrooms. Save everyone a lot of work to keep them white.

He toweled his hair off quickly with his no-longer-white towel, and wrapped it around his waist. In the locker room, Johnny was sitting on the floor in front of his locker, with his head on the bench, sound asleep.

"Johnny?"

"mm?"

"Your turn in the shower."

Johnny groaned, and hauled himself to his feet. "I'm gettin' too old for this."

"You're twenty eight," Roy said. "That's ridiculous. A shower, a little breakfast, and you'll be right as rain."

Johnny threw his sweaty, blackened uniform on the floor of his locker in disgust. "Says the man whose wife is gonna take care of him when he gets home. Me? I have a hot date with a box of Wheaties, a half gallon of milk, and that's all." He marched into the shower, threw his towel over the bar next to the stall, and scowled at the black handprints on his formerly snowy-white towel.

"And then after I take a nap, you know what I'm gonna do?" Johnny hollered from the shower.

"I hesitate to ask," Roy yelled back, "but you're gonna tell me anyhow, so go ahead."

"Buy some new towels. Dark blue. Or maybe red. I bought white because they're cheap, and you can bleach 'em, but this is ridiculous."

"Not a bad idea," Roy said.

"Crap. I still smell like a bonfire."

"Stoker's not here beating the door down, so I think you can risk the 'repeat' part of 'lather, rinse, repeat,'" Roy replied.

Some people could get away with a quick shower, and not reek of soot, but others—maybe people with particularly porous hair—had to wash their hair several times to get rid of the smell. Johnny was cursed with the latter characteristic, which didn't matter so much if you were a regular fireman, but could get to be a problem if you were also a paramedic.

"Yeah, okay. Damn it."

A minute later, just as Roy was finishing shaving at the mirror, Mike came into the bathroom, towel around his waist. The contrast between the parts of his skin that had been exposed to the soot of the fire and the parts that hadn't was stark, and the light blue towel somehow brought the contrast out. A less wise man than Roy DeSoto might have laughed.

"Is he still in there?" Mike asked Roy.

"Gimme a break," Johnny said from the shower. "I can't help it if I hold the soot smell, and the little old ladies don't like it when you come into their house smellin' like that." The water shut off, and a hand reached through the curtain and grabbed the towel off the bar. Johnny emerged in a cloud of soot-scented steam. "They think you're gonna get their house all dirty, no matter how clean you look. It's the smell." He stomped off into the locker room to get dressed, not bothering to shave. He supposed if he had to pick between holding the soot smell and having to shave every ten minutes like some of the guys, he'd pick the soot.

"Sheesh," said Mike. He didn't really like getting into a shower that was still warm from someone else's bathing, but he'd gotten used to it over the years. He made fast work of getting clean, and was just getting out as Marco walked in, yawning.

"All yours," Stoker said.

Marco just grunted as he entered the shower. He was usually famous for being cheery and polite, no matter what, but everyone knew to stay out of his way after a non-stop shift like this one. He grumbled to himself in Spanish about the scent of Stoker's shampoo.

"I heard that," Mike said from the sink where he was shaving. You couldn't grow up in L.A. and not understand some Spanish, which Marco often conveniently forgot. Mike suspected that it was the only way Marco knew how to gripe—to pretend that he thought nobody was going to understand what he said.

Marco took pride in being the fastest in the shower of anyone at the station. In just over a minute, he was out, and he took Roy's place at one of the sinks. He and Mike studiously ignored each other while they shaved. Marco pretended not to be annoyed by the way Mike rinsed his razor so frequently, and Mike pretended that the face that Marco always made when he shaved around his mustache didn't tick him off.

As Chet came in, the silence was deafening. It was made even more deafening by the fact that Chet didn't have a thing to say, at least until the the hot water started pouring over him.

"Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are—"

"The pipes are gonna be beating you over the head if you don't shut up, Kelly," Cap snapped from the locker room. "What part of 'behave' didn't you understand?"

"Sorry." The rest of Chet's shower was silent, except for some certainly intentionally incomprehensible grumblings.

BWAAM, BWOOMP BWEEEEEP!

"No!" Johnny shouted, in the second and a half between the tones and the dispatch information. He finished tying his boots, and lightly beat his head against his locker.

"Squad 51, woman fallen in yard, possible broken ankle. 1147 Sacramento Street. That's 1-1-4-7 Sacramento, cross street Olivera. Time out: 0601."

"One minute!" Johnny complained. "We got toned out exactly one minute after we were back in service! And that address isn't even in our district!"

The squad doors slammed shut, and the station was silent once again after the vehicle pulled away.

~!~!~!~

At 0655, the squad pulled back into the silent apparatus bay. Mike, who had been cleaning the sooty interior of Engine 51's cab and had literally fallen asleep at the wheel, rag in hand, was jolted awake by the squad doors slamming again.

"It's not fair," Johnny said, as he got out of the squad.

It was immediately obvious what he meant. Cap had said to behave, but Mike simply couldn't help himself. Punch-drunk with fatigue, he dissolved into laughter at the sight of DeSoto and Gage, both of whom were completely covered in mud, from head to toe.

"You be quiet," Roy said, uncharacteristically hostile, "or I'll get right in that shiny, clean engine of yours and sit down. And I'll touch everything."

Cap appeared from his office, and his jaw dropped. "What in blue blazes … ?"

"Our patient," Johnny said, "fell in her yard, because they'd just had the yard topsoiled and seeded, and her husband left the sprinkler on all night. She went outside to let the dog out, and slipped and fell in the sea of mud she didn't even know was there, and broke her ankle. And guess what?"

"The dog," Cap said. "Oh boy."

"It was a Saint Bernard," Roy said.

"You can have the shower first, Roy," Johnny said. "Because I'm staying in until 0800."

Nobody argued with him.

The End

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