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Disclaimer: All characters represented from Station 51 and
Rampart Hospital belongs to Universal Television and Mark
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-
"'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
"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.
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,
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
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
"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.
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
"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?"
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
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
"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 -
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,
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.
"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 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
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."
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