Disclaimer: All characters represented from Station 51 and 
Rampart Hospital belongs to Universal Television and Mark 
VII Limited. 
Rating: PG-13
Category: Angst
Author's Note: Thanks, Peg and Donna. You both make me work 
Feedback: Gladly received at STPteach@aol.com
Summary: Roy makes a decision that has serious consequences 
for himself and his partner.

Matters of Trust
By Susan Proto  (STPteach@aol.com)

"But, Daddy, it crashed right on you!  The roof all came 
down and they couldn't find you, and they tried and tried, 
but they couldn't get to you!  Oh, Daddy!  Daddy, don't go 
to that house!  Please, don't go to that house!"  

Jennifer sobbed in her father's arms after waking up from 
yet another nightmare in the dead of night, a result of a 
four day long bout with the flu.  Roy wasn't sure who was 
in greater need of comfort at that point - his daughter or 
him.  The only DeSoto that had escaped the flu bug was 
himself, but all that had done was make him the head 
caretaker for his sometimes violently ill family.  

Roy thought if he ever had to wash another set of pajamas, 
bed sheets, or blankets, he'd be ready for them to take him 
away in a straight jacket.  He couldn't help but wonder how 
Joanne managed to do this on an ongoing basis, though even 
she admitted that with her down for the count, Roy had it 
tougher than she ever had.

Finally, on the morning of Day 3, Joanne had started 
showing signs of improvement, and that evening Chris had 
been able to keep down a whole glass of ginger ale.  Only 
Jennifer still had a high fever, so Roy had remained at her 
bedside to offer a comforting hug and gentle kisses to her 

It was then that he realized her fever had finally broken.  
He whispered a small prayer of thanks, gave his daughter a 
small drink of flat soda, and then tucked her back into 
bed.  He finally left her room to return to his own bed.

"Jen's fever finally broke," he whispered to his half-
awakened wife.

"'Bout time," she mumbled, still groggy from sleep.

"Yeah. Listen, I'm going into work tomorrow."  Joanne 
became instantly alert.

"Roy, should you?"

"Well, you're feeling better, right, Jo?  I mean, if you 
don't think you can handle the kids, I'll stay home."

"No, it's not me I'm worried about, it's you.  Roy, you 
haven't had a full night's sleep in three…no, counting 
tonight, it'll be four nights.  You've been running on 
empty; do you think it's wise to go in?"

"Jo, I took an extra couple of days that I really didn't 
have in the first place.  Cap's been really understanding, 
but with this drought, the department's been so short-
handed.  He told me to make every effort to report in as 
soon as possible."

"But, Roy -."

"- Hon?  You're right, I've been running around like a 
madman for the last few days."  He smiled.  "I need to go 
into work so I can get some rest."  

Joanne smiled in return; she knew exactly what he meant.


Roy sat in the locker room, put his shoes back on, and tied 
them securely.  He felt somewhat dazed, and was grateful 
for the quiet.  He needed some time to get back in the 
swing of things and hoped the shift would be light enough 
to allow him to do that.  As his shift mates entered the 
locker room, they marked Roy's return with hearty welcome 
backs.  The most sincere one came from his partner. 

"Everyone doing okay?  I mean, you didn't leave them too 
soon, right?  'Cause if you did, and you have to leave 
again, I think I'm going to hang myself.  I can't deal with 
Brice and not be prepared for it, Roy.  Tell me you're 
staying put, please," Johnny pleaded.

"Huh?"  Roy looked up from his shoe, as he realized John 
had just read him a whole litany of complaints but, in 
reality, Roy hadn't heard a thing the man had said.

"Oh, great, you're really out of it.  Maybe you should take 
another day?"

"No - no," Roy quickly assured him, "I'm fine.  I was just 
enjoying the peace and quiet, that's all."

"Yeah, but what if it gets busy?  It's been quiet for the 
last few hours -," he began before Chet sputtered in 

" - Are you crazy, Gage?  Are you trying to jinx us or 
something?" he cried out.  "You know that as soon as you 
say out loud how quiet it's been, that's the kiss of 

Of course, it was at that very moment that the tones 

"Shoot."  John got up as he listened to the request for the 
squad to tend to a man suspected of having a heart attack.

"Told you so, Gage," Chet said with a smirk, "Kiss of 

"Yeah, thanks for the reminder, Kelly," Johnny called out 
as he ran for the squad.  Roy stood and double-checked 
himself.  He felt a bit disjointed and for a moment or two 
wondered if perhaps Johnny and Jo hadn't been right.  

Maybe he should have taken an extra day.


The run was uneventful in that the man was in the early 
throes of having a cardiac episode, but his wife used her 
head and called for assistance as soon as he mentioned a 
radiating pain down his left arm.

Johnny rambled on and on during the entire trip back to the 
station about how alert the victim's wife was to call 
emergency services and that if more people were as aware of 
symptoms as that woman was, more people could be saved.

Roy tuned him out about a quarter of the way into the 
return trip.  He was tired and muzzy and could really use a 
catnap.  By the time they returned to the station, Gage had 
just about run out of steam, but Roy knew that he'd start 
all over again once he gained a new captured audience.

"How's the victim?" asked Cap.

"He's good, good," began John, but before he could go into 
rant mode, Roy cut in.

"Listen, I'm going to try and catch a few winks before the 
next call."  The throes of a headache started creeping in.  

"Sure, pal.  You want to be woken for lunch?" asked Cap.

"If by some miracle I get to sleep till noon, yeah, wake me 
for lunch."  Roy offered a wan smile.  It wasn't even ten 
o'clock yet, so the idea of getting a couple of hours of 
shuteye was more enticing every second.  As he turned and 
walked toward the dorms, Roy could hear Johnny's voice 
going on and on about the importance of early warning 


"John, why don't you go in and wake up Sleeping Beauty?  
Lunch is just about ready," said Hank.

"Sure, Cap."  

Johnny walked into the dorm.  He heard something that 
caused him to tense up.  "Roy?  Hey, you okay?" he called 
out as he moved toward his partner's bunk.

Roy moaned and held up his arms and hands in what looked 
like a defensive position.  "No, no," he moaned.  "Get out.  
Gotta get out."

"Hey, wake up, man.  C'mon, you're dreaming. Wake up."  
Johnny gently shook Roy's shoulders in an effort to wake 
him without startling him too much.

"Gotta get out - Jen, I'm comin'," Roy mumbled and then 
suddenly, his eyes opened wide, alert, yet at the same time 
confused as to exactly where he was.

"Hey, you okay?" asked John, as he automatically grasped 
his partner's wrist to take his pulse.  "A little fast," he 
murmured, "but within normal range."  John also noted the 
slight warmth to his partner's wrist, but attributed that 
to being covered.

"What?" Roy responded as he pulled his wrist out of 
Johnny's hand.  He shook his head and tried to shake off 
the invisible cobwebs.  "Are you okay?" he asked.

Johnny chuckled.  "Roy, I'm fine.  You, however, have me a 
little worried.  You were taking a nap and had a nightmare.  
You want to talk about it?" he asked, concerned.

It took him another several seconds to clear his head, but 
he finally felt lucid enough to respond, "I'm okay, and no, 
I don't want to talk about it because there's nothing to 
talk about."  He stared at John for another second or two 
before he finally had to ask, "Um, is there something you 
needed?"  Roy's tone was tinged with annoyance, though for 
the life of him he wasn't sure why.

His partner, on the hand, didn't need a reason.  He felt 
he'd unjustly become the brunt of his partner's crankiness. 
"I was just coming in to wake you for lunch, that's all."

"Oh."  Roy sat there, feeling a little guilty, mildly achy, 
and a lot foolish.  "Sorry, I guess I'm more tired than I 
thought - didn't mean to bite your head off."

"Apology accepted."  John, though quick to take things to 
heart, was just as quick to forgive.  "Now come on, before 
Chet eats all of the roast beef slices and leaves us with 
the bologna," he urged.


It didn't matter that John and Roy were able to snag some 
of the roast beef before Chet hogged it all.  It didn't 
matter that they'd each made a sandwich that would have 
made Dagwood Bumstead proud.  

The tones sounded and the entire station was called out, so 
all deli sandwiches, condiments, pickles and coleslaw were 
unfortunately left uneaten while the hungry firefighters 
rushed out to their respective vehicles.

The site of the fire was an old, two-family home in a small 
residential district not too far from a local shopping 
area.  When they arrived at the scene, Captain Stanley 
spotted a distraught young woman waving her arms 
frantically in an attempt to get someone's attention.

"Miss?  Miss, are you the one who called the fire in?" 
asked the captain.

"Yes, I called.  Oh, God, I don't believe this.  I just 
don't believe this."

"Miss, is there anyone in the house?"

"I don't know.  Grandma?  Maybe Grandma is upstairs still?  
She may have snuck out again, I don't know.  If she did, I 
didn't see her go.  Oh God, what if she's up there?"

The young woman pulled away from Hank and started running 
for the house.  "Miss!  Miss!" he yelled as he caught up to 
her and grabbed her arm.  "My men will go in and check the 
upstairs.  Stay here," he ordered.

"Gage, DeSoto!"  The two rescue men appeared before their 
captain immediately.  "This woman says her grandmother may 
be upstairs."  He turned to young woman and asked, "What's 
your grandmother's name?"

"Helen.  Helen Thompson."
"Okay," he said and turned to the paramedics, "make sure 
you keep in touch.  Have that HT on full volume; I don't 
know if I like the looks of this place."

"You got it, Cap."  Both men returned quickly to the squad 
to get their required gear.   
Meanwhile, Hank turned back to the young lady and asked, 
"What's your name?"

"Sandra.  Sandra Thompson."

"Well, Sandra Thompson, why don't you go stand over there 
by one of your neighbors and wait where it's a little 
safer.  Do you live there by yourself?"

"Grandma lives upstairs.  Mom and Dad are away on vacation; 
I was supposed to keep an eye on her.  They're going to 
kill me.  Oh, God, she's got to be all right. I'll never 
forgive myself if something's happened to her," she 

"Our guys will do everything they can, Sandra."  He took 
her by the arm and motioned over one of the concerned 
neighbors. "Wait with Mrs. - ?"

"Harkin, dear.  Mrs. Harkin.  Come, Sandra, let's let these 
good people do their job."  The older woman led the much 
younger woman away from the house.

"HT 51, what is your status?" asked the captain.

It was hot.  Too, damned hot.

The smoke filled the upper floor and flames were coming 
full-tilt out of what was once a kitchen, or at least an 
area dedicated to being a kitchen.  The upstairs apartment 
was tiny, but had four little rooms to search - bathroom, 
bedroom, living room, and kitchen.  The kitchen had a 
small, two-burner stove, with a small sink and refrigerator 

Now, the pot, the apparent culprit, sat blackened on top of 
the stove.  Johnny made his way into the kitchen and then 
poked inside the tiny bathroom to search, while Roy entered 
the small bedroom that was to the left of the living room 

When he didn't find anyone in the bedroom, Roy emerged to 
see his partner's back, still partially in the bathroom.  
Suddenly, the HT squawked, "HT 51, what is your status?"

"Still searching, Cap, but it doesn't look like anyone's up 
here," called out Roy. 

"Take another minute and then get out," ordered the 

"One minute and out; that's affirmative.  HT 51 out."

Roy moved to look around the living room when he suddenly 
heard a rumbling and then a cracking sound.  It was loud 
enough to be heard over the roar of the fire and the noise 
of the hoses going full tilt.  Roy turned and looked up.  
The roof was bulging; it could not take much more water 
before it collapsed on top of him.

On top of him.  'Get out.  Get out, Daddy. It's going to 
crash right on you!  The roof will come down and they won't 
find you.  They'll try and try, but they won't get to you! 
Oh, Daddy!  Daddy, get out of the house!  Get out of the 

Roy turned and ran toward the exit.  He had to get out of 
the house.  He had to get out before it crashed on top of 


"Sandra?  Oh my goodness, Sandra, what's going on?"  A 
middle-aged man, dressed in a shopkeeper's apron approached 
the crowd, with an elderly woman on his arm.

"Grandma!  Grandma Helen, you're okay!" Sandra Thompson 
cried out in relief.

"I found her wandering around the market.  I saw she was 
still in her nightgown; I figured she got out on her own 
again so I brought her back.  But what's happened, Sandra.  
Your house - oh, your house..."

"Grandma, why did you go to Mr. Gardella's store?"

And for the first time the elderly woman spoke; it seemed 
as if she were oblivious to the tumult that surrounded her, 
or the chaos that she was the center of.  "I was cooking my 
breakfast.  I wanted my eggs.  I put the butter in the pan; 
you know Sandy, how I like it.  Lots of butter, the real 
stuff.  But I didn't have any more eggs. I needed my eggs. 
So I went to the store."

She looked around with a confused expression.  "Where are 
my eggs, Sandy?"

"Oh, Grandma, you left the pan with the butter on the 
stove, didn't you?" her frustrated granddaughter asked.

"I needed my eggs.  I like my eggs with lots of butter.  
You know that, Sandy."  She looked around some more.  
"Where did I put my eggs?"

"Oh, Grandma."  Sandra heard the voices of the firemen 
shouting.  "Oh no, those poor firemen!"  She quickly ran 
over to Hank Stanley and cried out, "She's here.  She was 
at the store!  She left the frying pan with butter on the 
hot stove.  I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry!" she sobbed.

"She's not in there?"  The distraught woman shook her head.  
"HT 51 - Victim has been found.  VACATE NOW.  I repeat, 
vacate now!"

Seconds later, just as the roof came crashing down Roy 
appeared at the home's entrance.  As the other members of 
A-Shift and Station 110 continued to hose down the hot 
spots, Hank ran over to Roy and grabbed his arm.  He helped 
him walk toward the squad, all the while asking him if he 
was all right.  It was only after he'd settled Roy on the 
running board and automatically turned around to ask the 
younger member of the paramedic team to tend to his partner 
that he realized something was wrong.

No younger partner.

"DeSoto, where's Gage?"  When the paramedic remained 
silent, Hank's anxiety increased.  "Roy, where in hell's 
name is Johnny?"

Roy turned and looked around him.  He heard the cap's 
question; he even understood it.  He just had no idea of 
how to answer it.  He couldn't remember anything that 
happened in the house.  All he knew was that he was now 
sitting on the running board of the squad and his partner 
was nowhere in sight.

"I don't know, Cap," he barely whispered.  "I don't know 
where Johnny is.  I'm sorry. I'm sorry."  

"Damn it," Hank growled.  "Stay here, DeSoto.  Do not move 
from this spot.  Do you understand?"  Roy nodded his head 
ever so slightly, but it was enough to indicate to Hank 
that Roy knew to remain put.

Next he ran over to where Marco and Chet were manning a 
hose.  "I need you two to check out the house.  Gage is 

"Missing?"  Chet echoed and then looked over toward the 
squad.  "Where did Roy say he was?"

"He didn't.  Something happened in there, but I'll be 
damned if I know what.  Roy says he doesn't know where his 
partner is.  I need you to get in there and find him, 
hopefully in one piece."

"You got it, Cap," said Chet.  "C'mon, Marco, let's show 
'em how real firemen do the job."  The last was said with a 
nervous energy that only Marco heard.  None of the three 
men were happy with the scenario before them: one missing 
man and one man who didn't know why.


It didn't take all that long to find him.  When the roof 
caved in, it fell in pieces, but Gage had the presence of 
mind to dive under the small kitchen table.  Though it 
didn't do much to protect his legs, it did prevent a 
possible concussion.

The guys called out to him when they reached the second 
floor. Gage responded immediately and though there seemed 
to be a ton of wet roofing all over the floor and one heavy 
beam, Marco and Chet were able to free John relatively 

His shins were bruised, but nothing was broken - not even 
the skin.  Though he wasn't injured, Gage was shaky on his 
legs, so both Marco and Chet provided him with support on 
either side and led him down the stairs and onto the 
street.  They sat him down on the grass near the squad.

"Well, he's all in one piece, but you should probably give 
him the once over anyway, Roy," said Chet. 

Roy remained seated on the running board and made no 
attempt to move off of it.

"Hey, Roy, aren't you going to check Johnny out?  After 
all, a roof did fall on top of him."  Chet meant it as a 
lighthearted commentary, since it was obvious that Johnny 
had no serious injuries.  You'd never have known that given 
Roy's reaction.

"The roof?  What do you mean the roof collapsed on him?  
Damn it!"  Roy walked tentatively over to his partner.  He 
kneeled down and whispered, "I'm sorry."  Next, he looked 
up at his captain.  "I need the biophone and the drug box."  
Cap nodded.  He and Marco ran over to the squad to pull out 
the necessary equipment and laid it down by Roy's side.  
The problem was Roy's hands were shaking so badly, Hank 
wondered if he would be able to run the call.  

Roy ordered a backboard for his partner and moved to put a 
cervical collar on.  However, as soon as Roy moved close 
enough to touch Johnny, Roy saw Johnny flinch. The next 
words out of John's mouth were spoken just loud enough for 
his partner and captain to hear.

"Don't.  Don't touch me." 


Hank didn't understand the reason for John's objection, but 
it was obvious the younger man was in great distress and 
would not allow Roy to treat him. "Roy, what do you want to 

"I'll notify Rampart."  Roy called in and explained that 
'the victim' was being combative and would not allow 
himself to be treated.  Rampart confirmed that the victim 
was conscious and that the ETA was within ten minutes.  
"That's affirmative, Rampart.  We'll wrap and run."

There was something about Roy's demeanor that caused an 
alarm to go off in Hank's head.  He wasn't sure if it was a 
professional calm, lack of concern, or something else that 
caused Roy to behave the way he was to Johnny's demand.

"I want you checked out, too, Roy."  When he saw him about 
to object, Hank added, "It's not a suggestion, DeSoto, it's 
an order."  He turned to Chet and said, "Drive the squad in 
and make sure it's carried out."  

Roy immediately quieted down, became sullen, and responded 
monosyllabically. It wasn't unusual for Roy to become quiet 
after a difficult run, so his silence, though disturbing 
wasn't what caused Hank's major concern.  Johnny, on the 
other hand, was rarely if ever silent.  He might be grumpy, 
or pouting, or somber, but he was never simply silent.  

Until now.

Johnny was conscious but hadn't said a word from the time 
he'd voiced his objection to the time he was loaded into 
the ambulance.  During the ride in the ambulance, Roy made 
one more attempt to check on his partner.  

"I said don't touch me."  

Roy said nothing.

Roy followed the gurney into the emergency room.  John was 
sent to Treatment Room 3, but instead of following him into 
the treatment room as was common practice, Roy headed 
toward the lounge.  Shortly thereafter Chet arrived.  Dixie 
walked up to the fireman and told him where each of his 
colleagues were.
"I just saw the damnedest thing.  Roy didn't go into the 
treatment room with Johnny. Chet, am I missing something?" 

"You know, Miss McCall, I'll be damned if I know."

"But something is going on, right?"


"Something big?"  

Chet shrugged.  "I've got to get back to the station.  
Cap's standing the squad down for now until we get the 
doctor's okay for those two to get back to work."

"Two?  What's wrong with Roy?"

"I don't know.  He was caught in the building collapse, 
too, but he got out quicker than Gage.  Cap wants him 
checked out just to be sure." 

Dixie nodded. "Okay, I'll make sure he gets seen," she 
assured.  "Chet, did anything happen between the two of 

"I - I ..." Chet shook his head.  He was feeling uneasy 
about everything he'd just witnessed.  The two people that 
he thought had the best working relationship and personal 
friendship he'd ever seen were acting like two complete 
strangers. "I'm sure Cap will call later to check on them.  
If there's anything we need to know before that, you'll 
call the station, right?"

"Sure, Chet."  She watched him leave.  He didn't even stop 
to say goodbye to them.  

It was big.

Dixie entered the lounge.  She noted the flushed cheeks, 
glassy eyes, and lack of expression.  He shuddered slightly 
when she walked toward him.  'Sick? Shock?' she wondered.  
She quickly grabbed a throw blanket and wrapped it around 
his shoulders.  Roy barely moved.  

"Roy?  What happened?" she asked gently.  When he didn't 
respond, she asked again, with a little more force.  "Roy, 
I need to know what happened at that fire.  Talk to me."

At least he looked toward her direction, though he 
consciously avoided eye contact.  "Roy? What's going on?  
What happened in that house?"

Roy looked down at his knees; he began to pick at the 
threads on the blanket.  He spoke quietly, hesitantly.  "I 
don't remember."  

Dixie's response was quick and anything but quiet or 
hesitant.  "Bullshit, Roy DeSoto, and you know it.  Now 
stop avoiding the truth and tell me what the hell happened 
that's got you tied up tighter than a pretzel?"

He stared at her and wondered if he could ever admit the 
truth to her.  Roy didn't think he could; hell, he could 
barely admit the truth to himself.


"Johnny, you don't have any broken bones and you finally 
did something to protect that hard head of yours, so 
there's no concussion.  But something is definitely wrong." 
declared Dr. Brackett in the most authoritative tone he 
could muster.  

"I'm fine.  Can I go back to work?" His voice was toneless.

"Not until I can find out why your blood pressure is lower 
than it should be."

"I feel fine," he gritted out.

"You're not feeling fine.  You're tighter than the skin on 
a bass drum.  Johnny, what's going on?"  And then it hit 
Brackett.  What had been really odd about the entire 
examination - not once had Johnny asked about his partner's 
condition.  Not once had he asked where his partner was -
not once.

He decided to play out his hunch.  "Roy's waiting for you."  
Brackett waited for a response but got nothing in the way 
of a reaction.  He pushed the situation further.  "Do you 
want to see him?"

"Look, all I want to do is to go back to work.  Could you 
check my BP, please, so you can release me?"

"Sure, Johnny, I'll check it again."  He wrapped the BP 
cuff around the paramedic's upper arm and began to squeeze 
the rubber ball and noted the numbers.  "John, I can't 
release you.  Too low."

"What?" he asked, his jaws clenched tightly.

"You appear to be a little shocky."

Johnny met Brackett's eyes - .  Gage realized that Brackett 
probably had good cause to keep him right where he was and 
knew better than to argue further.

"Okay, now that you know I'm serious, would you mind 
telling me what the hell is going on?"

Johnny looked away.  He didn't know if he could respond, 
didn't know if he wanted to.  If he said it out loud, then 
it would make it real.  And if that happened - if he made 
it real - then he wondered if he would ever be able to 
trust his partner again.


"I abandoned my partner."  The words came out so softly, so 
breathy, that Dixie feared she hadn't heard them correctly.  
But the look on his face spoke the truth.  It was exactly 
what he'd said.

"Roy?  What makes you say that?" 

"Because it's a fact.  I just left him, Dix.  I panicked 
and I abandoned him."  

And then it was like the floodgates opening, and as 
reticent as he was at first to talk about it, he couldn't 
stop himself now if he tried.  

"I heard the damn roof creaking; I saw it bulging, and I 
knew it was going to go.  I didn't hear anything but the 
roof starting to give; I don't know if Cap ordered us to 
vacate or not.  

"All I could see was the bulging ceiling, and I knew I had 
to get out of there.  I had to get out, I had to get out. 
It was going to collapse on me, it was going trap me and 
the guys can't reach me.  They can't get to me and I have 
to get home...Jen's sick...I have to go before it 
collapses...I'm coming, Jennifer..."  

It was as if he'd gone into a hypnotic trance.  Dixie rang 
the call button into treatment room 3.  Something wasn't 
right, and she knew a doctor needed to witness it.


"Well, it's tell me now, or tell me later, but you are 
going to fill me in on what happened.  C'mon Johnny, we've 
known each other too long to bullshit one another. What's 
got you so wound up that you can't even bring yourself to 
talk about it?"

John looked at Dr. Brackett and opened his mouth to speak, 
but the words wouldn't come.  He averted his eyes - it was 
easier to speak the unspeakable when you didn't have to 
look someone in the eyes.

"He left me."  His voice was small, so unlike the huge 
personality that usually filled the halls of Rampart 
whenever John Gage was in the building.

"What do you mean, 'he left you'?" asked Brackett, gently.  
He quickly realized this was more serious than even he 
could have imagined, and the last thing Kel wanted to do 
was to say something that would shut Johnny down.

"I'd just come out of the bathroom; hell, the damn thing 
was so tiny I never was really in the thing.  Just put my 
head through the door and saw no one was there.  When I 
came out, I heard it.  There's something so distinctive 
about a roof about to come down; have you ever heard it, 

Kelly shook his head.

"Well, if you had, you'd know what it would sound like 
every time.  It's a pretty ominous sound, you know?  Well, 
I looked up and saw the ceiling was starting to buckle and 
it was obviously holding its limit of water.  It was coming 
down and soon.  I looked across the room; it'd gotten 
really smoky, but I could still make out Roy's form.  

"I couldn't hear anything, but I saw Roy looking up and 
then -."  He stopped speaking.

"What happened, Johnny?"  The doctor could guess what had 
probably happened, but he figured it was important for John 
to verbalize it.  If he could say it aloud, then hopefully 
he could work it out for himself and with Roy.

"Then - he left me."  Johnny took a deep breath, paused, 
and began again.  "Doc, he never looked over at me.  He 
never looked for me.  He.  Just. Left. Me."  

It was at that moment that Johnny started shaking 
convulsively.  He couldn't stop; it was as if he'd been 
thrown into the Arctic Ocean in his birthday suit.  Even 
his teeth chattered uncontrollably.

Brackett quickly reached over and pulled a blanket from the 
closet and wrapped it around him.  "Johnny, take it easy.  
It's going to work out, you'll see."

He quickly ordered a dose of Valium for his patient.  He 
pushed John down on his side and injected the drug into the 
hip.  Brackett hoped it would do the trick and allow the 
young man to calm down enough to be able to deal with the 

At that moment, the call button rang.  Brackett watched as 
the nurse answered the call and informed him, "It's Dixie.  
She needs you in the lounge; I'll stay with John, Doctor."

Brackett nodded and left to see what was going on.  He had 
a strong suspicion it had something to do with the other 
half of the troubled team.

As he entered the room he first noticed the chalky pallor, 
yet very flushed cheeks, of the man sitting on the couch. 
The next thing he noted was the lack of expression on the 
man's face, but he was muttering on and on.  Brackett 
looked at Dixie.  

"It's almost like he's in a trance, Kel."

"I'm trapped.  I'm trapped.  They can't get me.  They're 
trying but they can't get me, and I'm going to die.  I 
don't want to die.  I'm sorry, Jennifer, I don't want to 
leave you, honey, I'm sorry.  Forgive me, Jen, I'm trying 
to come home. I want to come home.  It's going to collapse.  
I can't get out - I have to get out. I'm coming...I have to 
get home...Jen's sick...I have to go before it 
collapses...I'm coming, Jennifer..."  

"Roy," Dr. Brackett called out.  When he received no 
response, he called out Roy's name again and then pulled 
his arm out from under the blanket and pinched it.  Hard.
"Roy! Wake up and talk to me!"

"Ouch."  Roy blinked and looked down at his arm.  "That 
hurt."  His expression was one of confusion.

"I'm sorry.  I needed to get your attention, and it seemed 
the most expedient way."

Roy still looked confused.  And his pallor went from a 
chalky white to a tinged green.  His eyes took on that 
special, panic-stricken look that all nurses know as the 
universal cry for the emesis tray.

The last few days had finally caught up with Roy in more 
ways than one.  He was immediately placed on a gurney and 
brought into treatment room 1.  Roy's bouts of nausea 
increased to the point that Brackett decided to admit him.  
He feared that his patient would become badly dehydrated if 
the vomiting continued at the same rate.

Brackett issued an order for Compazine to help reduce the 
vomiting.  The drug was once routinely prescribed as a 
tranquillizer; that was probably a bonus effect in Roy's 

He waited till Roy settled into a restless sleep, and then 
Brackett had Dixie follow him out into the hallway.  "Dix, 
I think we've got a problem."

"I know, Kel.  Roy is really upset by this; I think he 
really blames himself for Johnny's accident."

"Dix, according to Johnny, Roy's well within his rights to 
do just that."

"What are you saying?  Johnny thinks Roy's responsible for 
Johnny being caught in that roof collapse?"

"John feels Roy abandoned him in the building, without 
giving him any kind of signal that he was in danger or that 
Roy was going to seek help.  According to Johnny's version, 
Roy turned around and just left him."

"Which means they're both going through hell at the moment, 
doesn't it?"  

Brackett had no choice but to agree with her.


Kelly Brackett didn't give it much thought when he made the 
decision to keep Johnny overnight for observation; it was 
when he decided with whom the young man would room that 
caused him to think long and hard.  He knew having John and 
Roy stay together could backfire badly, but he also knew it 
was the best chance the two friends had in coming to some 
kind of understanding.

The doctor made sure the staff psychiatrist was on call and 
available; it wasn't a question of if the two would need to 
speak with him, but more like when.  Brackett knew Roy and 
John had some important issues to work out between them if 
they were ever to work together again.  He hoped his plan 
would put them on that path.


Johnny woke up very early the next day to moaning.  It took 
him a moment to remember where he was - and why - before he 
was able to get up and see what the problem was.  He 
dangled his feet over the bed, stood up slowly, and 
straightened out his rumpled hospital gown.  

"I hate these damn things," he muttered as he slowly 
shuffled over to his roommate's bed. When he was only a 
couple of feet away, John saw Roy's face and gasped.  He 
wasn't sure why, but his partner's face was the last one 
he'd expected to see in the hospital.

"You weren't hurt," he whispered.  "Why the hell are you 

"He's sick, Johnny.  Which is what you'll be if you hover 
over him too much."  Joanne came out of the bathroom with a 
basin of water.  

"I thought you were sick," Johnny said.

"Well, I'm not a hundred percent, but I'm doing better than 
he is," she explained as she mopped her husband's forehead 
with a damp cloth.

"The kids?"

"My mom came to stay with them.  They're both still weak as 
kittens, especially Jennifer.  It's been a really rough 
last few days.  Roy ran himself ragged trying to take care 
of us all."

Johnny nodded in acknowledgment, but he didn't say 
anything.  He didn't know what to say.  He was confused and 
hurt, upset and - angry.  He was angry with his partner for 
putting them both in danger.  He was pissed off that Roy 
didn't use the common sense he was born with and take an 
extra day to rest.

As it turned out, he'd come down with the same stomach flu 
that had knocked his family down for the count.  But it 
could have gotten him killed.  And that scared him, because 
if he couldn't trust Roy DeSoto to use common sense, how 
could he trust anyone?  Hell, how could he trust himself?

"Jo-" he began.

"-Not now, Johnny.  Wait until he's awake."

"Okay, but I don't know what to say to him, Jo."  Johnny 
turned and walked back to the bed.  

"Nice view, Gage."

"Oh, Joanne! It's not like you can see anything," he 
grumbled in disgust as he grabbed the back of the gown to 
cover his underwear.  

"Sorry, couldn't resist."

"Yeah, well, I just may have a talk with your husband about 
your ogling my butt."

"Whose butt you ogling?" Roy rasped.

Joanne smiled.  "Your partner's."

He sighed.  "Do I still have a partner?" he asked.  He 
turned from Jo toward John.  "Do I?"

John didn't answer at first.  He wasn't sure how he felt at 
that moment.  "Roy, I don't know what to think."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sure you are, but that doesn't change-."

"-John, I don't know what happened."

John felt as if all of the fear and rage he'd been feeling 
was going to cause him to explode.  

"You left me! That's what happened!" 

"I know, and I didn't mean to leave you.  I just got so 
scared and mixed up.  I'm sorry," Roy pleaded.

"Johnny?"  Joanne spoke.  "He's been so run-down and 
running himself ragged taking care of me and the kids until 
he got sick himself.  He didn't know what he was doing when 
he left you in that building.  Johnny, that wasn't Roy who 
left you; it was someone who was exhausted and ill.  Can 
you understand that?"  She wore an expression that begged 
him to believe her.  

John knew under ordinary circumstances Roy would never 
abandon him in a fire.  It just wasn't something he'd do if 
he were in his right mind.  The question that kept running 
through his mind was that if it could happen once, could it 
happen again? 

Johnny shook his head and sighed, as he looked at Jo and 
then at his partner.  Although it wouldn't happen that 
moment, John knew that he and his partner would work things 
out.  When push came to shove, John couldn't see himself 
partnered with anyone but Roy.  As he looked at his now 
sleeping, feverish partner, it occurred to John that 
sometimes all that was important was remembering and 
trusting those that really mattered.

"Later, Jo.  I promise we'll all talk more, later."

The end
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