You're Not Just Whistling, Dixie

Dixie McCall was wandering through the mall lost in thought. What could she get Kel for his birthday? Some of the other nurses were going in on a gift but she wanted to give him something a little more personal. Cologne? A new tie? Nothing seemed right somehow. She was so intent on her inner monologue that she didn't even see the man before she ran into him.

"Oh, I'm sorry," they began together. Then she looked up at a familiar pair of eyes, "Johnny! What are you doing here?"

"I was just about to ask you the same thing Dix!" He answered, giving her that crooked grin that she had come to know and love.

"I was just trying to find something for Dr. Brackett's birthday," she said. "Your turn."

Johnny smiled, "I was just looking for some music for my date tonight, she said she likes jazz, so I thought I'd pick something out."

Dixie grinned, "Okay, which of my nurses is it?"

Johnny pretended to look wounded, "What makes you think it was one of yours? It just so happens she's a pediatric nurse, Cathy Simmons."

"I know her. But I didn't think you knew anything about jazz. What album did you get?" She asked, pointing to the record store bag.

"Oh, Dixie, you just won't believe this!" Johnny said. "I was flipping through the albums, looking for anything I could relate to and I found one! Just from the picture on the front cover, I knew this was the one for me!"

By now, Dixie was intrigued, "Was the girl on the front cover that gorgeous?"

The crooked grin widened, "It wasn't only that she was gorgeous, it was the fact that she reminded me of you!"

Dixie paled, "The singer's name wouldn't happen to be Marie Ireland would it?"

Johnny pulled the album out of the bag and looked. When she saw the album cover, she paled even more.

"Yea, Dix! How'd you know?"

"Johnny, can you keep a secret?" Dixie asked.

Johnny looked at her curiously. She looked ready to pass out. "Dix? Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?" he asked, looking for a bench. He took her by the arm and led her over to the bench and sat her down. He was in full paramedic mode as he knelt in front of her. One hand taking her pulse while the other was on her cheek checking for a fever.

"I'm fine, Johnny," she replied, trying to get him to stop fawning over her. "I only asked if you could keep a secret."

"What kind of secret makes you so pale? Dixie, are you sure you're okay?"

Dixie sighed, "You know the album that you bought because the girl on the front cover looked just like me?"

"Uh-huh," Johnny looked curious, wondering how an album cover could cause this kind of reaction.

"It IS me."

Johnny's mouth dropped open. He just stood there like a deer caught in the headlights. Then he seemed to pull himself together. He laughed.

"Good one Dixie! You almost had me going there for a minute! If it weren't for the fact that I can see a practical joke a mile away..."

Dixie smiled inwardly remembering all the stories about how many times poor Johnny got himself caught by the Phantom because he didn't always see the practical joke a mile away.

"No joke Johnny. Marie Ireland was a stage name that I used."

Now it was Johnny's turn to need a seat. He fell onto the bench next to Dixie.

"Wow." was all he could think to say. So he said it again, "Wow!"

"I know what you mean." Dixie said.

"I had no idea, Dix!" Johnny said. "If you were a singing star, why'd you become a nurse? I would have gone for the fame and fortune."

Dixie smiled at the young man's incredulity. "It's a long story, Johnny."

"Come on Dix," Johnny begged. "If I buy you dinner tonight, will you tell me?"

"What about your date tonight?"

Johnny started, "Oh God! I forgot!"

Dixie couldn't help laughing, "John Gage forgets a date? Wait'll Chet hears about this one!"

"Dixie, you wouldn't!"

Still laughing, she answered, "Now we both have secrets, don't we? Are you on tomorrow?"

"No, day after."

Dixie stood up, "Okay, then. I get off work at 7. You can buy me dinner tomorrow and I'll explain. I'm curious to get your take on the album anyway."

The crooked grin came out again, "Okay, you're on! I'll pick you up at Rampart at 7."


The next day, Dixie was a bundle of nerves. Of course, it didn't affect her professional performance, but it didn't do wonders for her demeanor either.

She jumped a mile when Kel came up to her and asked for a patient's record.

"You okay, Dix?" Kel asked, an expression of concern fought an expression of amusement on his face.

"Sorry, Kel, I'm about a million miles away today." She answered with a guilty smile on her face.

"I could tell," he answered. "Anything I could help with?"

"No thanks, I'll be fine."

"You sure? I bet I know what could ease your nerves," Kel said.

She gave him this look that said, "Oh really Doctor?"

"Have dinner with me tonight." he said.

Dixie smiled and her eyes said 'yes'. However, her mouth said, "sorry Kel, could I take a rain check? I have plans for dinner tonight already."

Brackett felt a brief stab of jealousy, then realized how foolish that was. After all, they weren't really dating anymore and maybe she had plans with another nurse and not another man. He made a mental note to be there to see who picked her up from work tonight.


Promptly at 7, Johnny bounded into the emergency department with a smile and a small bouquet of flowers. Dixie looked up and smiled.

"Hey, Johnny, let me just go change clothes really quickly and we'll go."

"Sure thing, Dix."

As she slipped into the nurses lounge, Johnny stood there whistling. Brackett came out of one of the treatment rooms and saw Johnny standing by the bay station holding the flowers. //Nah,// he thought to himself, //couldn't be.//

Then, as he was standing there, he saw Dixie come out of the nurses lounge wearing a long, straight, black skirt and loose fitting blue blouse. She was beautiful. Then, much to his surprise, he heard Johnny give a low wolf whistle and offer his flowers. She smiled as she accepted the flowers and linked her arm with his. Brackett just stood there with his mouth open.

As they walked toward the exit, Johnny noticed Brackett standing there, "Hey, Doc! How you doin' tonight?"

Kel pulled himself together, "uh, fine Johnny, thank you. " he hesitated for a moment.

"The two of you are going out? Together?"

Johnny grinned and said, "What can I say Doc? She couldn't resist me forever!"

Dixie just smiled and said, "Good night, Kel. I'll see you tomorrow."

With that, the two of them walked out leaving Brackett gaping like a gagging goldfish. He was still standing there when Joe Early came up to him.

"Close your mouth Kel, you'll catch a fly." Early said with a gentle smile. "Anything wrong?"

Brackett closed his mouth and blinked. Then he turned to the white-haired doctor standing at his side. "The world is coming to an end. I've seen a sign of the apocalypse."

Early laughed, "It couldn't have been that bad Kel. What did you see?"

"Dixie going out with Johnny Gage."

Joe put a hand on the taller man's shoulder, "That's not the end of the world. Although I don't remember hearing about pigs learning to fly."

"It's not funny, Joe." Kel leaned against the wall. "You know his reputation with women. Dixie'll just get hurt."

"Come on Kel, Dixie is a big girl. She can look out for herself. She can handle Johnny."


Johnny and Dixie got to the restaurant and were seated almost immediately. It was Johnny's favorite place - a small, intimate Italian restaurant that Station 51 had saved several months previously. Firemen always got the best at Tony's.

As the waiter took their order, Tony came over with a fine bottle of Cabernet and said it was on the house.

Once the wine was poured and orders given, Johnny turned to Dixie with the air of a child at Christmas.

"Dixie, that album was something else! My favorite was 'Cry Me a River'. I had no idea you could sing like that!"

Dixie blushed at all the compliments being thrown her way in rapid succession.

"Thanks, Johnny. That album paid for my last year of nursing school."

"Okay Dix, I want the whole story! Starting with your name change."

"The name is the easy part to explain. Who ever heard of a jazz singer named Dixie?"

Johnny nodded thoughtfully, "You've got a point there, but where'd you get Marie Ireland?"

Dixie smiled at the memory, "Marie was the name of my best friend from junior high and Ireland is somewhere I've always wanted to visit. They just seemed to fit together."

Johnny nodded and waited for her to continue.

"When I was little, I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. I just liked helping people? I also loved singing. I'd sing along with the radio or in the shower or whenever. I joined my church's choir and the choir at school. Everyone said I was really good, but I never really listened to them."

Johnny just stared, "You never listened to them? You're a great singer! Why didn't you listen?"

Dixie shrugged, "I didn't want to be a singer. It didn't matter to me if I was really that good or not. I sang to please myself, not an audience."

She took a sip of wine and continued. "When I got older and started looking into nursing school, I realized I'd need a job to pay for it. A job that would give me time to study. One of my friends saw a club looking for a singer and she talked me into auditioning."

The waiter arrived with their food and they began eating. Johnny kept looking at her as they ate, dying for her to continue her story. Finally, she looked up and realized he must be going crazy at this point. She debated whether or not to let him.

She put her fork down and said, "So I went in and sang 'Cry Me A River'. The guy offered me the job right there. It was decent pay and the hours couldn't be better for a student like me."

"So I sang 5 nights a week at this club and worked like a dog in school. If I needed additional money, I sang at other clubs, lounges, parties, wherever."

Johnny sat back in his chair in awe. Here was a side of Dixie he had never seen. He kind of liked it.

"So where did the record deal come into the picture?" he asked.

Dixie emptied her wine glass and Johnny quickly refilled it.

"One night, I was singing at the club and one of the waiters passed me a note from a guy in the audience. Ordinarily, I would've ignored it but the guy had folded a fifty into the note. If he was willing to pay that kind of money for a personal brush-off, who was I to argue?"

Johnny was leaning forward on his elbows. He was completely enthralled by her story she noted with a hint of satisfaction.

"So after the set, I go out to his table. He introduced himself as Eric Thompkins from Emerald Records."

Johnny nodded, "I've heard of them."

"Anyway, this Eric Thompkins says he's been looking for me all his life and would I like to make a record for Emerald. I laughed at him."

Johnny's eyes became saucers, "You laughed at him? The man was offering to make you a star and you laughed at him!"

She just shrugged her shoulders, "I didn't believe him at first. I'd heard a lot of pick-up lines and I just figured this was another."

"Then he pulls out his business card and I realize he really is a talent scout for Emerald. I asked him what I'd have to do. He offers me a generous stipend to do an album of jazz standards along with a small percentage of the royalties and an option for more albums if the first one was a hit."

Johnny was on the edge of his seat and nearly fell off when the waiter snuck up on them to find out if they wanted dessert. Johnny glared at him as they ordered coffee. Dixie just sat there trying very hard not to laugh at him.

"Who was I to argue with a talent scout? When I got out of school for the year, I spent the summer in the recording studio. The record came out in October. The stipend I had been paid covered my entire last year of nursing school - books and all."

"When it came out, it got mediocre reviews and only reasonable sales. My option wasn't picked up and I took that as a sign that nursing was where I truly belonged. The rest, as they say, is history."

Johnny stared in awe. "Do you still sing at all?"

Dixie nodded. "My brother-in-law has a club on the other side of town. I perform whenever I feel like it. He says as long as no one throws rotten fruit at the stage I can keep coming back."

"If you still sound anything like you did on your record, there ain't nobody that would throw anything at you. Except maybe a recording contract." Johnny grinned.

Dixie smiled as they finished their coffee and Johnny signaled the waiter for the check.

"Johnny, no one else knows about my musical past and I'd just as soon keep it that way. I'd never live it down."

"Your secret's safe with me, Dix!"


The next morning as Johnny and Roy took the squad over to Rampart for supplies, Johnny was saying, "Don't tell her I told you, Roy. She'd kill me!"

"If you promised to keep it a secret, why tell me Junior?" asked Roy.

"I had to tell someone or I'd bust. I know I can trust you with a secret. You've gotta hear her sing, it's incredible!"

"You'll have to loan me the record so I can. I can't imagine she'll be performing for the firemen anytime soon."

Johnny looked at him, "That's it!" he yelled.

Roy looked nervous, his partner was known for crazy ideas at times. "What's it?"

Just as Johnny opened his mouth to reply the tones came across the radio.

'Squad 51, child trapped, 1124 Sunrise Lane 1-1-2-4 Sunrise, cross street Melton, time out 10:25'

"Squad 51 KMG365" Johnny spoke into the mike as he and Roy put their helmets on.

The child had stepped into a gopher hole and gotten his foot stuck. With a shovel and a splint, they got the boy's broken foot out of its predicament. Johnny rode in with him and Roy followed with the squad.

As they reached the doors to the ER, Johnny helped the gurney out of the ambulance and down the hall. As soon as he knew he was no longer needed, he went to find Dixie.

She was sitting by the bay station going over their supply list with Roy when he found her. She looked up at Johnny and smiled her hello.

Johnny looked at Roy and said, "Hey partner, could you give me a second with my favorite nurse?"

Roy looked at Johnny staring at Dixie and Dixie looking at Johnny and decided that he probably didn't want to get involved. He took the box of supplies and headed out to the squad to sort them out.

Kelly Brackett was coming out of Treatment 1 when he happened to look over at the bay station. There was Dixie talking to Johnny. Johnny was leaning in like, whatever their conversation was, it wasn't for anyone else's ears. He watched with rapt fascination as Dixie laughed at something Johnny said. It looked extremely intimate. He felt a pang of jealousy aimed at Johnny. He became angry at the thought of Dixie even giving the time of day to that skirt-chaser.

//Stop it Kel, Johnny's your friend,// he chided himself. //Dixie doesn't belong to you anyway.//

Johnny finally straightened up and said, "I'll pick you up tomorrow night at 7 and we can talk about this, okay?"

As he walked out, Kel walked up to Dixie, "Hey Dix," he tried to sound normal. "How was your evening out with Johnny? You doing it again?"

Dixie looked up and smiled, "It was a very pleasant evening actually. We're doing it again tomorrow as a matter of fact."

Anger flared again in the doctor, "I can't believe you went out with him knowing his reputation as a heart breaker. What were you thinking Dixie?"

She was about to say something about being just friends until his last statement. Where does he get off? Honestly!

"I'm thinking that Johnny is a perfectly nice man and we had fun together. Odds are we're going to have fun together again tomorrow night. Now if you'll excuse me Doctor, I have work to do."

Joe came up to Kel as he was standing by the bay station in shock.

"Close your mouth Kel. You're just determined to catch a fly aren't you?"

"She's going out with Johnny again, Joe. Tomorrow night."

"That really bothers you, doesn't it Kel?" Joe suspected that Kel had feelings deeper than friendship for the beautiful nurse. This seemed to confirm it.

Brackett turned on him, "Of course it bothers me Joe. We all know Johnny's reputation! He's going to hurt her."

"That's not really why you're angry, is it?" Joe said, "You like her, don't you Kel?"

Brackett ran his fingers through his dark hair and sighed. "Okay Joe, you win. Yes I like her. I like her a lot. How could she pick Johnny?"

"How do you know they're actually dating? Maybe she's helping him with something or she wanted his assistance. They don't have to be dating. They could be two friends going out for a bite to eat."

"Try to be around here tomorrow night when Johnny picks her up. Then you'll see what I'm talking about."


Throughout the day, Roy and Johnny brought Rampart a steady stream of patients. A heart attack, two broken bones, a shooting victim and three smoke inhalations. After the last one, Johnny pulled Dixie aside and asked her, "Dix, is there anything wrong with Dr. Brackett? Did I do something to offend him? He keeps snapping at me."

Dixie sighed, "You didn't do anything Johnny. He's just having a bad day."

"Have you given my suggestion any thought?"

"Johnny, I can't! I told you no."

"Come on Dix, it'll be fun! You never know until you try. I know you haven't done it for a while, but come on!"


"I'm not giving this up, Dixie. We'll take it up tomorrow at dinner. I'll be here at 7 sharp."

Kel stood just around the corner listening to this exchange. It took all he had to not go up to Johnny and punch his lights out. The obnoxious jerk! After only one date, too!

He took a deep breath and walked out to talk to Dixie. He knew he'd have to get back on her good side to get her to listen to him.

"Hey Dixie," he said lightly. "How're you doing?"

Dixie looked up into Brackett's eyes. He was trying to be friendly, but she could read in his eyes the conclusions that he had leapt to. She sighed and prepared for the awkward exchange.

"I'm okay, Kel. You?"


There was an uncomfortable silence between them.

He looked at the ground, "I couldn't help but overhear your exchange with Johnny. Is everything all right? Is he trying to get you to do something you're not comfortable with?" He looked up into her eyes, looking for any sign that she had been traumatized. He didn't see any.

Dixie realized how much he really did care and how worried he really was, "It's okay Kel, it's just a favor he wants. It's nothing horrible. He just wants me to help out with this year's Fireman's ball. Station 51 is in charge of the entertainment committee this year."

Kel closed his eyes as he realized how stupid he had been and how badly he had treated Johnny. "God Dix, I'm sorry. I jumped to a really wrong conclusion. Remind me to apologize to Johnny next time he comes in."

Dixie just smiled as she looked at the handsome doctor. //Maybe he really does still like me.// she thought to herself.


Promptly at 7 the next night, Johnny presented himself at the ER with another bunch of flowers and a smile. Dixie slipped into the nurses lounge to change. Joe Early came out of treatment 2 and saw Johnny and flowers standing there. //Maybe Kel was right,// he thought to himself.

When he saw Dixie come out in a navy blue dress with a V-neck and a small slit up the back, he became a bit more convinced. And when she kissed Johnny on the cheek as he handed her the flowers, that was enough for him. Kel came up behind him.

"Hey Joe, you're going to catch a fly."

Joe closed his mouth and turned to Kel, "I think I owe you an apology, Kel."

Brackett just smiled and shook his head. "None needed. I talked to Dixie. He's trying to get her to help Station 51 plan the Fireman's Ball."

Joe sighed in relief, partially for his friend and partially for the fact that Dixie wasn't headed for heartbreak after all.

"Hey Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early, how're you guys doin' tonight?" asked Johnny as he and Dixie walked toward the exit.

"Fine Johnny."

"Fine thanks." said Kel, "Oh, Johnny, I just wanted to apologize for the way I was acting yesterday. I was having an off day and I guess I took it out on you."

"S'okay doc. No apology needed. I've had my share of off days. Just ask Roy," said Johnny with a smile.


"Come on Dixie! Why won't you sing at the Fireman's Ball?" Johnny asked for the tenth time that evening.

"Because Johnny, I don't need the fire department, paramedics and hospital staff teasing me for the next 20 years. I also have a date to the ball already. It would be rude to leave him all night for the stage. It's been at least 2 years since I've gotten up in front of a crowd and I don't feel like it."

"Trust me Dix, if you sing, teasing you will be the last thing on their minds." Johnny said over a plate of ravioli. "You're way too good to tease. This isn't karaoke we're talking about."

"I know John, it's just nerves, I guess." Dixie toyed with the food on her plate. "It's been a long time since I've sung in public and I'm not sure I want my debut to be in front of all my friends."

"Look Dixie, I know you're nervous. But 51's been chosen to get the entertainment for the ball this year and I think you'd be a really great hit."

Dixie sighed. She never could turn down the handsome fireman. But this was going to be on her terms.

"Okay, Johnny. I'll do it." Then, as Johnny started to gush, she cut him off with a look. "On several conditions."

Johnny nodded, "Name them."

"First and foremost, you find the combo. Once you get them booked, give me their phone number not less than a month before the ball."


"Second, you don't breathe a word of this to anyone. I'll surprise them at the ball. I don't need to be hassled at work before hand. If anyone asks you about the singer you've hired, use my stage name."


"Third, as I think I've mentioned before, I have a date to this thing. I want time to enjoy myself. I will not be on all night. Give me at least half an hour after the music starts to mingle after dinner. I will perform for no more than half an hour. I will not spend the entire evening on stage"

"An hour and a half," Johnny countered.

"Forty five minutes," Dixie said firmly. "Take it or leave it."


"Last, you will give me no less than 5 minutes warning before you drag me up on stage. 10 minutes would be even better." She suddenly got a mischievous smile on her face. "And you let me sing a song to you on stage."

"Gee, Dix," Johnny squirmed at the thought. "I don't know about that last one. I mean I can give you the warning alright, but I don't know about getting me up on stage."

"Those are my terms." Dixie said. "I'm not budging."

Johnny sighed. Sometimes it was impossible to argue with Dixie. Usually it was when she tried to get him to have an injury examined and he was insisting he was fine. He recognized this as another one of those times.

"Done." He said with a sigh.

"Good. Shall we have coffee?"


Over the next few weeks, Johnny was as good as his word. He found a small dance band that didn't mind working with a strange singer for a night and Dixie started rehearsing with them. When Captain Stanley asked him about the singer he found, he said her name was Marie Ireland and she had an album out a few years ago.

"Hey Gage," Chet said, "where did you find a singer? Did you save her life and given the choice to repay you by going out with you or singing at our party she chose the lesser of two evils?"

"It just so happens Chet, that she's an old friend of mine. She was more than happy to do this for me."

"Really?" Came Roy's skeptical response from the couch. He couldn't believe Dixie would be more than happy to do this if she had sworn Johnny to secrecy so recently.

"What can I say, Pally? The old Gage charm strikes again!"

"Just make sure she doesn't strike back, Gage," said Chet with a grin.

Captain Stanley came into the room, "I don't suppose you have her album, Gage? You hire her separately from the band, I think we need to hear what we're getting."

Johnny shifted in his seat. How was he supposed to show them without letting them see the photo on the cover?

He went back to his locker and took the album out of the cover so it was just in its paper slip. He took it into the break room. "I, uh, lost the cover. But here's the album, why not put it on?"

The music began and a smoky, come-hither sort of voice floated out of the speakers:

"Now you say you're lonely
you cried the long night through.
well, you can cry me a river,
cry me a river.
I cried a river over you.

Now you say you're sorry
for bein' so untrue.
Well you can cry me a river
cry me a river.
I cried a river over you.

You drove me, nearly drove me out of my head
While you never shed a tear.
Remember, I remember all that you said.
Told me love was too plebian
told me you were through with me and

Now you say you love me
Well just to prove you do
Come on and cry me a river
cry me a river
I cried a river over you."

Johnny took the needle off the record and looked around the room. The guys were standing with their mouths hanging open.

Finally, Chet blinked, "Wow Gage, you've really outdone yourself. She's fantastic!"

Captain Stanley said, "I second that thought, Pal! Fantastic."

Marco said, "I wish you hadn't lost the album cover, Johnny. Is she as gorgeous as she sounds?"

"Marco, my friend," grinned Johnny. "You wouldn't believe it!"

"I'll say," said Roy.

Mike Stoker piped up, "If she's that gorgeous, I can't wait to see her! This is going to be a party we won't soon forget."

Just then the tones sounded.

'Station 51, Station 110, Battalion 8, Station 16, structure fire, Pleasant Meadow Apartments, 2156 Alameda, 2-1-5-6 Alameda, cross street Carrington, time out 14:25.'

"Station 51, KMG365," responded Captain Stanley as the rest of the crew scrambled into their positions and headed out.

Two buildings in the complex were fully involved when they got there, but everyone was accounted for so Johnny and Roy set about treating smoke inhalations and minor burns until the ambulances arrived.

When Johnny got to Rampart he pulled Dixie aside for a minute, "How're things going with the band, Dix?"

Dixie gave him an impatient glance, "Johnny, I've got patients to deal with right now. If you're still here when I'm done, we'll talk, okay?"

Johnny just nodded and let her go to work. Roy came up behind him. "I don't know how you talked her into it Junior, but she is really good."

"Just turned on the ol' Gage charm. She never can say no when I beg."

Roy grinned and then got a thoughtful expression, "Hey, how come if she's going to perform for us, you're still using her stage name? Why not tell the rest of the guys?"

"Part of our deal. She doesn't want any hassles from our guys or the staff here before the show. She'll just surprise them."

"I told Joanne, she can't wait for the ball now."

"Roy! That was supposed to be a secret!"

"I can never keep secrets from Joanne. She can always tell. You know she won't tell anyone in our group or here. Face it, the most contact she has with either group is in the waiting rooms here."

Johnny thought back to all the times Joanne came to help her husband when Johnny was hurt or, much less often, when Roy was hurt and knew the secret wouldn't go any farther until the ball.

Just then, Dixie came into the lounge looking for Johnny. Johnny gave Roy a look which said, 'give me a minute?'

"I'll meet you at the squad, Junior," said Roy. "Don't be too long."

When the door had closed behind him, Johnny looked at Dixie with a question in his eyes.

She smiled, "It's going fine, Johnny. Have I got a song for you!"

"What is it? Something romantic?"

"You'll see."


Finally, it was the evening of the Annual Fireman's Ball. Kelly Brackett straightened his tie, took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.

The door opened and his heart stopped. Standing before him was a Dixie McCall he had never seen before. She was incredible in a long, figure-hugging, red satin and silk gown with spaghetti straps and the lowest neckline he'd ever seen on his nurse. The slit up the side of the dress could not be ignored either. In reality, it was there so she could walk in the thing. Aesthetically, however it made quite a statement. Her hair was pulled up in a loose pile of curls on top of her head with the occasional tendril snaking down her neck towards the ruby choker around her neck.

Dixie smiled, "Good evening Kel. Come on in while I get my wrap."

'Wrap? Evening? Who's Kel? Oh, right, that's me. Wow.' he thought as he walked into her house.

He looked around the tastefully decorated living room and wondered if the apparition he had just seen was real or not. He saw her standing in the opening of the hallway and decided she was real alright.

As she came back into the room she pointed at the roses in his hand and said, "Are those for me?"

"Oh, yes." he said as he tried to form a coherent thought in the presence of this vision in front of him.

"They're beautiful Kel, thank you." she took them from him and gave him a quick kiss on the lips as she headed to the kitchen to put the flowers in water.

It was with a supreme effort that he was able to pull himself together enough to walk her to his car and drive to the party house where the ball was being held.


Dixie and Kel were seated at a table with Joe Early, Mike Morton, their dates, Roy and Joanne DeSoto, and Johnny and his date, one of the nurses from oncology Dixie thought, trying desperately to remember her name.

Johnny whistled, "Wow, Dix. You look incredible tonight!" His date nudged him in the ribs.

"Oh, right, do you know Terry Davis? She's a nurse in the oncology ward."

Everyone said their hellos and made small talk as dinner was being served. Meanwhile the band played music to eat by.

As dinner ended and everyone was sitting around with their coffee and desserts that no one had room for, the band began playing dance music. Johnny looked at Dixie. She pointed to the clock on the wall and gave him a look. He smiled and nodded his understanding - half an hour.

Kel stood up, "Dixie, would you care to dance?"

She took his outstretched hand and he led her to the dance floor. He pulled her in close as they moved in time to the music. She put her head on his shoulder and sighed. If this wasn't heaven, she didn't know what was. Coincidentally, he was thinking exactly the same thing.

After a couple of songs they went back to the now empty table and sat down. Dixie looked him up and down and decided that a tuxedo was a good look for him. Much sexier than that old lab coat of his. She noticed his cufflinks were monogrammed in gold 'KB'.

"Those are nice cufflinks, Kel, where'd you get them?"

"You like them? A few of the nurses went in together and got them for me for my birthday."

Dixie's eyes widened, "Oh, Kel! I forgot your birthday didn't I? I am so sorry!"

In truth, Johnny's discovery of her album had pushed the birthday to the back of her mind and it never came forward again.

"It's okay Dix," said Kel with a smile. "I'm sure you'll think of some way to make it up to me."

Dixie looked at him with an arched eyebrow. 'That's going to be an interesting proposition.' she thought to herself.

Suddenly she saw Johnny standing behind Brackett holding up his hand. 'Five minutes,' he mouthed to her.

She stood up, "Kel would you excuse me for a bit, I've got to help Johnny with something."

"Don't be too long." he said with a smile as he sat back down.

She followed Johnny to the place behind the bandstand that she needed to be to make her entrance. She stood there breathing deeply as Johnny signaled the bandleader to begin the introduction.

There was a drumroll to get everyone's attention. The band leader stood up and took a bow. Then he had his band take their bows. The audience applauded appreciatively. Once he had their attention he began speaking.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, it's my pleasure to welcome you to this year's Annual Fireman's Ball."

Another round of applause.

"Now, I would like to present to you a singer with a phenomenal voice and the body to match. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the one and only Marie Ireland!"

Dixie took one more deep breath and walked out on stage. Every fireman, paramedic, doctor and nurse in the room froze. Spouses and charity patrons continued clapping, but a bit more tentatively. As her eyes scanned the crowd, they met Kel's. Standing by the table, the expression on his face was one of absolute shock. She closed her eyes for a minute. Then looked at the bandleader and nodded.

She opened her mouth and began to sing 'Cry Me A River'. When she was done, there was silence for a long moment and then the applause nearly deafened her. For the next forty minutes she sang some of her old favorites including 'You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To', 'No Moon at All', 'Round Midnight', 'Two Sleepy People', 'Go Slow' and a version of 'Daddy' that left every man in the room checking his wallet to see if he could afford her.

Finally, she smiled and said; "One of the conditions of my singing here tonight was that John Gage of Station 51 would let me sing a song to him. So, get up here Johnny!"

Roy and Chet pushed a somewhat reluctant Johnny up onto the stage. When he was up there, and looking completely flustered, she nodded to the bandleader. Then she sidled up to Johnny and gave him the sexiest look she had in her repertoire. Kelly Brackett swallowed hard and watched, enraptured. Johnny nearly fell off the stage. She began her song:

"While tearing off a game of golf,
I may make a play for the caddy" (fondling Johnny's face at this point)
"but if I do, I don't follow through" (pushing Johnny away)
"cause my heart belongs to Daddy" (look thrown at Brackett who feels a sudden need to sit down)

By the time she finished the song, Johnny knew that if he could make it off the stage without falling over, he would only not hear the end of it while he was still alive. If he fell over, Chet would follow him into the afterlife. He stumbled off the stage and bolted for the door. He needed air and needed it now! Chet followed with a huge smile on his face. This was going to be good!

Dixie was still bowing to the applause and the standing ovation started by Drs. Brackett, Early and Morton. As the bandleader helped her down off the stage, the three doctors were suddenly surrounding and congratulating her.

"Man, Dixie!" said Mike Morton. "That was incredible! How come you never mentioned you could sing like that?"

"That was wonderful, Dix. I especially liked your version of 'Daddy'," said Joe Early.

Dixie smiled at the attention and then turned to Kel. He just stood there with his mouth open staring at the most incredible woman he had ever met. She gently reached up and closed his mouth for him.

When he could finally speak, he said, "That was spectacular Dix. I had no idea you could sing. You are incredible!"

Joe looked at Mike and made a motion that said 'let's get out of here'. Mike took the hint and nodded.

"Well, we're going to go mingle some more," said Joe. "That was wonderful Dixie, we'll see you later"

"Yea, spectacular Dix" said Mike. "I'll see you later."

Kel was still watching her as she said her good-byes to the other two doctors. When she turned back to him, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

Momentarily startled by the sudden movement, she quickly settled into his arms and kissed him back.

When they finally came up for air, Kel said, "that was the best birthday present I've gotten yet."

Dixie gave him a look, "A kiss? Boy, you're easy to shop for!"

Kel smiled, "That and that look you gave me during 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy'. That look will stay with me a while."

"You think the look was something? You should see everything that comes with that look."

Kel smiled as he pulled her back to the dance floor. "You'll just have to show me when we get home, won't you?"

"You know it...Daddy!"