Title: Lights Out
Pairing: non, gen, friendship fic
Words: 16,000+ words, complete
Summary: The county drops into a blackout but when needed, Station 51 can still find each other.
Author's Note: Thank you for the warm welcome back! I'm having fun revisiting this fandom!
"...and then Marco shouts 'You see that?' and he jumped out of the engine before Mike could put on the brakes. I'm hollering 'Slow down!' but he heads for whatever he saw then abracadabra!" Everyone leaned back to avoid Chet's waving showman's arms. "He vanished like Houdini because the dummy forgot about the embankment!"
Hank chuckled as he sat back on the only lawn chair left on Roy's backyard. Being Captain had its privileges, after all.
The DeSotos' backyard was filled with Engine 118's C shift and Squad 9's paramedics. With the heatwave gone and the power back on, there was a relaxed air Hank could feel draped comfortably on his shoulders like a reliable asbestos blanket.
The off-duty shifts were gathered around Chet like he was pitching to home plate. Chet waited until 118's collective laughter settled before he continued, reveling in his audience and Marco's ignored protests.
"...I'm like yelling 'Marco! Marco!' and he pops out shouting 'Polo!'"
"I didn't say that!" Marco protested, trying to be heard above the laughter.
Chet gestures to his head. "The guy has half of LA's twigs and grass sticking out all over. Mike thought he was a talking tumbleweed!"
Squad 9's Carter slapped his knee and laughed. Barrel chested and built like a Big Red, Hank thought he could hear the vibrations all the way from where he sat. It reminded him of how Carter used his bulk to help the others right the squad, yet he was gentle when he freed John.
"Good thing there wasn't a brush fire," Carter's partner, Johnson, guffawed. He has a surprisingly loud laugh for such a skinny fellow. "You would have lit up. Dispatch would have a time responding to that run!"
"Each time you tell it, Chet, I have more stuff stuck to me," Marco griped without any heat in it. He punched Chet lightly on his arm. 118's Henderson smacked Marco on the back.
"I don't know how you saw it," marveled 118's Lewis. "Heard old Charlie said the squad's sirens were a goner. Roy and John were lucky to squeeze that last bit of juice out of it!"
A shadow flickered across Marco's face.
Marco shrugged. "I was looking for it."
"We're gonna have to call you Eagle Eye Lopez from now on, Marco!" Henderson declared.
"And get him some lawn trimmers," Chet added.
The howling from the others drowned out whatever Marco had to say about that.
"...Mike looked like he was going to bust Marco in the mouth for making him slam on the brakes like that, but Marco was still pointing at a whole lot of nothing, saying he saw a siren..." Chet gestured wildly as if he was the boogie man. "There he was, grass all over his head, half a tree sticking out of his collar..."
"How many times is he going to tell that story?" Joanne DeSoto chuckled as she set down a new tray of burgers for Roy.
Sweating over two grills, Roy rolled his eyes and pointed towards Chet with the flipper.
"Until they stop laughing," Roy guessed, a smile crooking his noted he looked much better without the bandage wrapped around his head. Then again, Hank thought he looked much better the moment they removed John's chest tube.
"Want another chili burger, Cap?"
Hank groaned and patted his stomach. "Oh no, three was enough for me, Roy." He nodded appreciatively as he considered the backyard: all of the personnel who responded to get his squad out, the other captains and wives enjoying tall glasses of cold lemonade and some of the firemen's children screeching and clamoring around Mike and John and the largest bundle of balloons he'd ever seen.
"Nice of you to throw this barbecue," Hank told Roy and Joanne.
"Least we could do." Roy's wife tilted her head towards Roy. The soft look on her face reassured Hank that the dark days at Rampart were truly behind the couple. It was a fireman's nightmare: not succumbing to fire, but what fire leaves behind.
"Hey Roy," John hollered across the yard. He pointed to something on the ground. "Watch out for that garden hose!"
"I see it!" Roy shot an exasperated look towards Hank. "And stop shouting! I see just fine now!" He proved his point by a perfectly aimed hamburger bun smacked into John's face. John did a dramatic arm flail and pretended to collapse onto the grass, Roy and Carter's giggling kids tackling him.
Hank chuckled at Joanne's groan as she watched Roy trot over to John, stethoscope out of his pocket. Again.
"Two weeks of John warning Roy to look out for every doorway, step and toy on the floor and Roy reminding John not to strain his lungs." Joanne folded her arms, but she was smiling as she watched John flap a hand at Roy and his stethoscope before finally attacking with a bunch of balloons. Both fireman and firemen's children gave chase.
"I have a funny feeling it's going to be more of the same when they come back to work tomorrow," Hank commented. He studied Joanne. She seemed to be focusing extra hard on the burgers Roy left behind.
"How are you feeling about Roy going back to work?" Hank asked gently. He had heard things; a still blind Roy and Joanne rotating vigils in a hospital room where John laid comatose, Mike looking shifty-eyed and unsettled after he had accidentally walked in on one heated discussion.
Joanne didn't meet his gaze immediately. She idly scraped the grill before stopping with a sigh. The smile she offered Hank was weary but reassuring.
"I feel better knowing they're both going back to work." Joanne cast her eyes, landing on Chet and Marco, her smile widening. "And I feel much better knowing they're both going back to work with you guys."
"Chet!" John hollered. He ignored Roy telling him to stop yelling. "What's the big idea?"
Hank's eyes widened when he located the two. He slapped a hand over his face at the sight of John dripping wet, Roy still trying to set his stethoscope on John and Chet cackling like a hyena.
"Figured you'll want an early start washing your repaired squad when you two—Roy!"
Hank peeked between fingers to see Roy fleeing with John into the house, a dripping Chet trying to find his footing with a bucket over his head, Mike and Marco providing him incorrect directions towards the house.
There was an urge to laugh; to throw back his head and release that full belly laugh that was a mixture of relief and joy, but he was a Captain after all. So instead, he gave Joanne a long-suffering look.
"Sure you can't keep those two with you a week more?"
Joanne chuckled as she handed him a fourth burger—all right, maybe one more. "Sorry, Hank. They're all yours."
Hank grumbled as he bit into his food. "Fine." Inside though, he savored the spices and the tomato sweetness of the burger, listened as the television turned on inside with the game, his men, all five of them kidding with the others as if that dark night weeks ago had never occurred.
All his, huh?
Hank leaned into the lawn chair, shook his head at his men and grinned behind a slurp of ice cold lemonade.
Guess he could live with that.
Feedback is like cookies. I like cookies! LOL.
This is for our bravest, for my darling beta Rnee and for all you E! readers out there. Much love and gratitude to Rnee! She's always ready to help me through my mistakes. I asked; she didn't hesitate. These E! fics wouldn't ever get finished without her. Her red pen is my lifeline!