Johnny to the Rescue
"Mornin' Roy," Johnny said as he opened his locker and pulled off his sweater.
"Hi, Johnny." Roy replied as he finished tying his shoe and began to tuck in his shirt.
"Hey, you leave for San Francisco tonight, don't you? What time are you working till?"
"Well, I hope to get out of here before 5 o'clock – I have my bag already in the car and will leave right from here to the airport. I'm sorry you won't be going to the paramedic conference this year."
"Yeah me too, me too," Johnny said with a sigh. "But you know how it is with budget cuts so I wanted to give someone else a chance. 'Sides, you can share with me what you learn."
"I sure will. I heard Brice is going to fill in for me later. Sorry about that," Roy said guiltily.
Johnny grinned, "Hey, I can handle him for half a shift. Let's just hope the night is quiet."
"Well now you just jinxed it, Gage," Chet said as he rushed to change before roll call.
"Aw, shaddup Chet," Johnny said with a sneer.
~ E ~
Roy backed the squad into the bay and was happy to see Craig Brice heading into the locker room. "I'm going to call Joanne to say goodbye before I head out."
"For once we had good timing," Johnny replied. He headed after Roy into the kitchen. While Roy dialed home, Johnny poured himself a cup of coffee motioning towards the cup to Roy who mouthed 'no thanks.'
"Hi Jo. Yes, just got back and will be leaving in a minute. I just wanted to say goodbye and I love you." Just then Chet walked into the room and made a 'kissy face' in Roy's direction. Roy simply turned his back to the annoying Irishman and continued talking. "I won't call unless I need to because its long distance but you have the hotel number if you need it, right? Yup, that's it. Okay, me too. Bye."
Roy hung up the phone and looked around the room. "Cap in his office?" Mike nodded a yes from the couch. "Okay, I'll just tell him I'm leaving. See you all Monday."
"See ya, Roy." Johnny called after him as the other men waved.
~ E ~
The next morning Johnny yawned as he changed into his civvies. "Man, I'm beat."
"Told you you'd jinx it, Gage." Chet said striding out from the dorm well rested. "We didn't get a call all night, did you notice that? I don't tempt fate."
"Shaddup, Chet." Johnny said slamming his locker and heading to the parking lot.
When he got home, he peeled off his clothes and headed straight for his bedroom. He was asleep in just a few minutes. He jolted awake and reached for his turnout pants and boots before he realized that he was in his own bed and the "tones" was actually his phone ringing. Dropping back onto the pillow, he picked up the receiver. "Hullo?"
"Oh no, I woke you up," he heard Joanne reply.
"Jo? No, that's okay. What time is it? I can't sleep the day away, anyway." Johnny sat up and rubbed his eyes. He stifled a yawn.
"It's almost 10 a.m."
Johnny waited but when she didn't continue he prodded, "Everything okay?" He heard her sigh.
"Come on, Jo. What can I do for ya?" Johnny smiled, hoping it could be heard in his voice.
"Well, Chris has a football game today and…"
"Oh, you must have plans today. Never mind. Forget I called."
Johnny closed his eyes and took in a breath. He knew Joanne was a giving person and hated to ask others for help. "Jo, you can always come to me if you need something. Lord knows I come to you and Roy enough. I owe you. Now, what's up?"
Another sigh. "I was hoping that you could bring Chris to his game."
"Well, heck that's easy. What's the big deal?"
"I would take him – I would but…I just don't feel well and I don't think I should leave the house."
Johnny sat up. "Don't feel well, what's wrong?"
"Oh, don't go getting all paramedic…just a stomach bug."
Johnny grimaced in sympathy. "Oh, I see. Well, what time is the game? When should I be there?"
"Oh, Johnny, thank you so much. Can you be here at 1?"
"Sure can - and don't mention it, Jo."
After saying goodbye, Johnny headed for the kitchen to make some coffee.
~ E ~
At 12:45 Johnny knocked on the door of the DeSoto home. Chris answered the door already in his uniform. "Hey, Partner," Johnny said playfully punching down on the boy's shoulder pads.
"Hi, Uncle Johnny. I'll be ready in a minute. I just have to get my cleats."
Johnny shut the door behind him and then spotted Joanne on the couch. She pushed herself to a sitting position.
"Hi there, Jo," Johnny said softly. "How ya feeling? You are looking a little peaked." He squatted down near her and put his hand on her forehead.
Joanne smiled at the gesture. "Oh I'm fine. Just a little green around the gills."
"You don't think it's something you ate, do you?"
"No, no. Jenny had this. Just my turn," she said blushing.
"Aw, I'm sorry about that. You make sure you drink lots of fluids, okay?" He glanced behind him at the coffee table and saw a glass of water there. "I'll bring you back some ginger ale. That will help settle your stomach. Is there anything else you want?"
Joanne shook her head. "No, thank you, Johnny. Ginger ale would be very nice. Thank you."
"Now would you stop saying thank you so much, woman." Johnny said, feigning annoyance. Joanne laughed lightly just as Chris bounded down the stairs. Standing up, Johnny looked around. "Where is Jenny?"
"She's next door. She didn't want to go to Chris' game and she'll be back in two hours," Joanne answered.
"Well that's perfect. Now you can just rest here and take care of yourself…for once." Johnny grinned that classic Gage grin and was happy to hear Joanne giggle in return. Knowing she was okay, he and Chris headed for the game.
~ E ~
Johnny and Chris quietly entered the house a few hours later, trying not to disturb Joanne on the couch but she was not there. Johnny glanced at the glass of water on the coffee table and was relieved to see it was almost gone. He started toward the kitchen until the sound of retching came from the hall bathroom. He winced at the sound and for a moment stood motionless, not sure what to do. He didn't want to make his adopted sister uncomfortable by going to check on her but then again – he needed to check on her. Chris had heard the sounds too and looked nervously at Johnny.
"Chris, go see if Jenny is back from the neighbors yet." Chris nodded and headed out the back slider and across the lawn.
Johnny stepped quietly down the hall and heard the toilet flush. "Jo? Jo, honey. Are you alright?"
"Yes, Johnny. I'm okay. Thank you for taking Chris to the game." The sound of running water could be heard. "I really appreciate it. Thanks again."
Johnny rolled his eyes at the multiple 'thank yous' coming from his friend and made a mental note to talk to her about that when she was feeling better. "Are you coming out? I want to make sure you get settled back on the couch," Johnny said as brightly as he could. He knew she must be embarrassed.
"No. I'm fine, though. I'll talk to you later."
Johnny put his hands on his hips. "I'm not leaving until you come out here." He made his voice sound slightly stern.
After a moment the door to the bathroom opened and Joanne stepped meekly out. Johnny's first instinct was to reach out to her as she looked horrible but he resisted. "Come on out here. Jo, you look terrible…no offense."
Joanne tried to smile but really couldn't manage it. She walked carefully down the hall. Johnny hovered close by. He saw her more clearly in the light of the living room. She was as pale as a sheet with a definite green hue. Her eyes were sunken and dark circles lay under them.
"Come, sit down here." Johnny said taking her elbow, no longer able to keep himself from reaching out to her. "Oh Jo, we should have stayed with you, you poor thing."
Joanne sat down slowly as if any sudden movement would upset the obvious stomach issues she was trying to control. She swallowed hard as she leaned back on the couch. Johnny gathered the blanket and tucked it around her.
"Do you want to lay back down?"
"Nuh uh," was her only reply. Johnny handed her the glass of water but Joanne drew back from it, eyes wide. "Nuh uh," she said again.
"You know you need to drink, Jo. Hey, I brought some ginger ale for…" Johnny was caught off guard as the blanket he had tucked around Joanne flew towards him and she bolted down the hall. He recognized the distinct sounds of someone not quiet making it to the bowl followed by a miserable groan.
Chris came back into the house. "She's still there. I told Mrs. Kenyon that mom was sick so she said Jenny can stay there. She wants to know if we need any help."
"Well, I need your help, Chris. I need a bucket and a mop – any cleaning supplies you can find. Oh, and after than find a big bowl from the kitchen." Chris ran to get the requested items as Johnny headed into the bathroom only to almost get a door shut in his face.
"Joanne, let me in," he said, gently pushing the door open. He found her on her hands and knees trying desperately to clean up the vomit from the floor. "Oh no you don't," Johnny said putting his hands on her shoulders and helping her off the floor. He turned on the faucet and helped her wash her hands.
"Don't say it, Jo. Just let me help you." Chris came to the doorway with the cleaning supplies. He made a face at the smell but Johnny shot him a 'don't' look and he hurried off.
Johnny led Joanne around the puddle on the floor and into the hall. "You will be more comfortable in your own bed, sweetie." Feeling her wavering in his grip, he went to plan B. "How about you stay in my room…er, the spare room? It's right next to the bathroom here so you don't have far to go."
"The couch is fine." Joanne mumbled but let herself be led into the bedroom nearby.
Johnny sat her down on the bed, pulled down the covers, propped up the pillows and helped her lay down. He took the slippers off her feet and covered her up. Dashing into the hall, he grabbed the large salad bowl Chris had found and brought it back into the room. "Here you go," he said pushing back the lamp on the bedside table and placing the bowl there. He dashed out of the room again and came back in with a hand towel and placed it next to the bowl.
Joanne looked sadly at the bowl and towel but then smiled. "You are so good to me, thank…"
"Hey hey, that's enough of that." Johnny said putting his finger to his lips. "Are you okay here by yourself for a minute?" Joanne began to protest but with another stern look from Johnny she leaned back with a sigh and nodded her head.
Johnny stepped into the hall and spotted Chris coming from the kitchen. "Do me a favor, buddy, and take this ginger ale into the kitchen. Pour your mom a glass with ice and get a straw if you can find one. Do you know where she keeps the thermometer?"
Chris picked up the bottle of ginger ale. "It's in the medicine cabinet over the sink in the upstairs bathroom, I think."
With a 'thanks,' Johnny bolted up the stairs two at a time. He came back with the thermometer and went into the spare room. "Put this under your tongue." Joanne rolled her eyes but smiled and did as she was told. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
Johnny made short order of cleaning up the bathroom floor and deposited the towels into the washing machine. After checking Joanne's temperature and declaring her as not having the plague, he grabbed the pillow case and blanket from the living room and dropped them in to be washed as well. Once the machine was running he stopped to scrub his hands before heading back to check on his charge. Joanne was dozing but the drink Chris had brought her sat untouched.
"Joanne," Johnny whispered. "You need to drink some of this." Joanne opened her eyes and scowled as Johnny held the straw up for her. "Come on. I understand how you feel but you know as well as I do that you need to replenish your fluids. Joanne took a tiny sip and then turned her head away. "I know how to start IVs, Jo." She took another healthy sip. Satisfied, Johnny put the glass down. "Do you think you can sleep for a while?" Joanne nodded and leaned her head back and instantly dozed off.
Johnny surveyed the room then shut off the light. He pulled the door partway shut and left the hall light on to give Joanne some light to see by in case she needed to make another run into the bathroom. He slumped down onto the couch and sighed. Chris sat down in his father's arm chair across from him.
"Is Mom okay? Should I go get Mrs. Kenyon?"
"Nooo, she's fine. It's just a stomach flu or something. Hey, your old Uncle Johnny can handle it, don't you think?" Chris nodded but did not seem convinced. Johnny gave him the same hurt look he used on his father and Chris laughed, just like his father. Johnny yawned, still tired from the busy night at the station but shook himself and headed into the kitchen. He found that morning's breakfast and lunch dishes in the sink so he set about washing them. After that was done, he wiped down the kitchen table and the counters. Satisfied, he headed down the hall to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Seeing the basket overflowing with the kids' dirty clothes, he started another load in the washer.
Chris came in the back slider with his sister. "Hi Uncle Johnny!" she said coming to him for a hug. "Where's Mommy? Chris said she was sick," the little girl said with a cute furrow in her brow. "Is she barfing?" Johnny stifled a giggle. "I barfed the other day." Jenny stuck out her tongue at the memory.
"She's in my room sleeping so don't make a lot of noise, okay, Princess?" Johnny smiled as Jenny nodded and put her finger to her lips with a 'shh.'
Johnny's stomach growled and he realized he hadn't eaten anything but a piece of toast with his coffee that morning. He glanced at his watch. "It's almost supper time. You two hungry?" Both children nodded. Johnny rubbed his hands together. Well, let's see what we can get cooking then. Jenny, do you want to help?" Jenny nodded vigorously, grinning happily. "Okay then, you go wash up upstairs. I'll meet you in the kitchen."
"I have a project for school I need to work on, Uncle Johnny. Do you need me?" Chris asked.
"No, you go ahead. Jenny and I have it covered," Johnny smiled as Chris bounded back up the stairs.
After checking on Joanne and finding still sleeping but with no apparent rise in her temperature, Johnny headed into the kitchen to see what the refrigerator offered.
~ E ~
"That was good, wasn't it Chris?" Jenny inquired from her brother.
"Yeah, it was okay." Chris said.
"I helped!" Jenny said brightly. "Right, Uncle Johnny?"
"Helped? Heck, more like I helped you, Miss Chef." Jenny beamed and Chris snickered as he picked up his dish and his sister's.
"I'll clean up, Uncle Johnny," He said, as he headed to the sink.
"Thanks, man." Johnny said stretching. "Jenny, why don't you put the TV on but keep it low, okay?" He smiled as again Jenny put her finger to her lips and said 'shh.'
Heading to the television she asked, "Can we watch 'The Bionic Woman?'"
Johnny made a face. "I just can't get into that show since it took the place of my favorite Saturday night program." Jenny just shrugged as Johnny headed in to check on Joanne.
"Hey, sleepy head. I put a fresh glass of ginger ale here for you. Have you had any yet?"
"No," Joanne said miserably.
Johnny picked up the glass and she took a tentative sip and then grabbed the bowl and threw up with a whimper as she didn't quite get it under her chin in time. Johnny poked his head out into the hall. "Jenny, do you think you can go upstairs and find your mommy another nightgown?"
"Sure, Uncle Johnny," she said scampering up the stairs, glad to be of help.
Johnny peeled off the blanket from the bed saying, "I'll be right back." He returned in a moment with the clean blanket from the dryer. "Here you go," he said, tucking it in with hospital corners and pulling it up over the sheet that covered Joanne. He then took the bowl from her hands. "Are you going to be okay for a minute until I rinse this out?" Joanne leaned back and threw her arm over her eyes in disgust but nodded.
Johnny returned with a clean bowl and chuckled as he watched Joanne who lowered her arm enough to shoot him a sharp look. "What's so funny?" she asked.
"You sort of look like me when you lay there with your arm like that," Johnny grinned sheepishly. Joanne smirked despite of herself. "How about we try just plain water?" He headed back to the kitchen with the glass.
After Jenny came out of the room with the soiled nightgown, he whispered to her to put it in the laundry and headed back to Joanne with a glass of water and held the straw for her while she took a few tentative sips. He waited patiently with the bowl ready while she fought to keep the liquid down. After a moment she nodded, closed her eyes and fell asleep. Johnny sat there on the edge of the bed and smiled softly. How many times had he laid in this bed with Joanne sitting where he was ministering to his pain, his fevers and his sicknesses? He leaned over and kissed her softly on the forehead. "I love you, sis," he whispered and left the room.
Johnny endured an episode of 'The Bionic Woman' and had to admit, it was a good show after all. When it was over he declared it Jenny's bedtime.
"Will you read me a book? You always read to me."
Johnny pinched her pouting lip between his fingers. "You know I will." Jenny surveyed her book shelf and chose 'Green Eggs and Ham.' She giggled at Johnny's silly voice as he read it to her.
"I love you Uncle Johnny," Jenny said through a yawn.
"I love you more, Princess," Johnny said as he kissed her blond curls.
He joined Chris back on the couch after checking on Joanne and getting a few more sips of water into her.
He woke sometime in the middle of the night sprawled on the couch. The television was still on but a test pattern was splashed across the screen. He tiptoed up the stairs to find Chris had gone to bed on his own. Jenny was fast asleep too.
He grabbed a sheet and blanket from the linen closet, checked on Joanne briefly and headed back to the couch to sleep.
~ E ~
"Uncle Johnny," came the fairy-like whisper. Suddenly his left eye was assaulted by blinding sunlight as Jenny pried his lids apart. "Wake up, sleepy head," she said.
"Mornin' Princess." He said sitting up and patting the couch beside him. She climbed up and snuggled up to him.
"Are we going to church, Uncle Johnny?"
"No, not today, sweetie. Your Mommy is still too sick. God won't mind, will he?"
"No, God still loves Daddy and he misses church a lot."
Johnny grinned as he slipped out of her gentle clutches. He headed for the spare room but met Joanne in the hall. He backed up to not get in her way and she raised a weary hand.
"Don't worry, I'm just going…well, I finished the water."
"That's great, Jo. And you look better." He bowed regally and swept his arms toward the bathroom door.
"Oh yeah, I'm sure I look like a fright," she said grinning and closing the door.
Johnny returned to the living room as Chris came down the stairs. "Who's hungry? I vote for cereal," he said to the kids. He heard Joanne scuff into the room behind him and turned, "And maybe some dry toast?" He squinted his eyes waiting to see how the suggestion would go over.
"Eh, not just yet, Johnny. But I will have some more ginger ale," Joanne said as she headed for the kitchen.
"Hey, where are you going? I'll get it," he said pulling his sheet and blanket off the couch and sitting her down. After dropping the bedding into the washing machine and throwing in some other items to make a full load, he breezed back into the living room but Joanne wasn't there. "Oh oh," he said and motioned over his shoulder toward the bathroom.
"No, she's in the kitchen," Chris answered.
Johnny scoffed and headed after her. He found her leaning on the counter surveying the kitchen as she sipped her ginger ale. Seeing him she shook her head. "Look at this place."
Johnny spun around looking for something out of place. Not seeing it he turned back to her. "What?"
"It's perfect. I expected the mess I left here from yesterday."
Johnny scoffed, feigning indignation. "I'm a full service friend, I'll have you know. No dish goes unwashed, no blanket goes unlaundered."
Joanne giggled and put the glass down. She slipped her arms around Johnny's waist and rested her head on his chest. Smiling, Johnny wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. After a moment, Joanne let go and looked up at him. "I know you don't want me to say it but I have to – or I'll burst."
Johnny laughed, "Okay, go ahead. But just one."
"Thank you, Johnny."
~ E ~
The following day, Roy found Johnny sitting on the bench near their lockers. "Welcome back, Roy."
"Johnny, Joanne told me how she got sick and you stayed with her. I can't believe everything you did for her. Thank you so much. I feel so bad that I wasn't there for her but I really appreciate you stepping in. You are a great friend."
Johnny blushed and hung his head for a moment. Looking up he said, "It was the least I could do, Roy. She always does so much for me. It felt good to return the favor."
Roy put his hand on his friend's shoulder and they stayed there for a moment, the silence speaking volumes.
Johnny got up and closed his locker. He followed Roy across the bay and into the kitchen. "Mm, that coffee smells great, Mike." Roy said smiling back at Johnny who had come to a sudden stop.
"Johnny?" Roy said watching his partner blanch and then cover his mouth. Johnny turned and ran across the bay back toward the latrine.
"What the…oh Johnny, gross!" Chet cried out from across the bay.
"Cap," Roy said, "I think you need to call in a replacement."