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       Heavy Duty
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      Page Three

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A wave of dizziness swept through Dixie and her fingers slipped on Roy's
skin. His head slid off her shoulder into the water. With a cry of dismay, Dixie
thrashed about with her arms, searching for him in a blind panic.

"I got him!" said a new voice.

Dixie gasped and startled when she suddenly felt strong arms supporting Roy's
heavy weight. She knew immediately who it was. "Fred! Get him up! Get him up!
He can't maintain his own airway. He's been drugged."

The doctor grunted, lifting, until Roy's nose and mouth reappeared at the
surface of the water. The paramedic gasped involuntarily then, through his
unconsciousness, and they watched as he started to breathe again in the rich
oxygenated air.

"OhmyG*d, How'd you get down here?" Dixie said, returning DeSoto's head
to her shoulder. "Are the others coming?"

"Not the way I came through." said Fred, blinking in the torrents of water raining
down on them. "It's all submerged now and there's been another ceiling collapse."
he said, slipping behind Dixie to support her back to help her with Roy's
weight. "How's that head of yours?"

"Never mind that. You're very stupid to come down here after me. Johnny's
gonna be p*ssed when he runs out of air down there after digging, comes up,
and finds out about you."


Gage's head burst to the surface and he sucked in huge lungfuls as he shook
the water out of his eyes. "I'm almost done! I think I can get him free this last
try once I catch my br--" he broke off when he realized that Fred was
there. "Dixie? Who's this? A survivor?!  Mister, are you hurt?"

"No, I'm not. Just concentrate on your friend here. Time's wasting. Time that we
just don't have." Hathaway barked. "I'm estimating another minute for
him before the water gets up over his head the rest of the way. Get going!"

Gage didn't try to fathom out the odd look in Dixie's eyes, nor the one on the
stranger's face. He just took another breath, and dove down again with the
knife in his teeth.

Roy began bubbling and choking as the water slapped over his chin and
trickled down his short airway tube. Dixie cried out. "Oh, no."

Fred was firm. "I got his shoulders, Dixie. Let him go. Concentrate on
helping him by mouth to mouth. Seal him off in between breaths when you
come up yourself for some. If you get dizzy, let me know and we'll switch
places." the surgeon shouted."Whatever you do, keep that airway in place,
it'll prevent tongue spasms."

Dixie nodded in fright and ducked under the water, starting to give Roy quick,
light breaths after pinching off his nose firmly. She kept going as the water
began to climb higher and higher up her arms. Dixie found that she had to
pull herself down deeper and deeper each time to reach his lips and
the hard plastic of the tube she was blocking off with her fingers.

Gage burst to the top again, seeing sparkles from the lack of air. He saw
Roy's head had submerged completely and that he was being aided already
by the two Rampart staffers. Hyperventilating by the hissing oxygen bottle's
underwater bubble stream, Johnny forced himself to recharge his lungs for
only a few seconds before he dove down one last time to cut free the cloth
still twisted around Roy's legs.

Above him, the truck settled, sliding down with a groan of tortured metal.
Johnny inchwormed out from under it at the last second with a fist gripping
Roy's pants leg cuffs, dragging both feet out of the way.

But then a block of ceiling cement impacted him in the small of his back,
pushing Gage face down, onto the submerged floor.

He began to struggle.

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Fred saw the change. "Dixie! Johnny's in trouble. Hold this guy. I'll
be right back." And he porpoised underwater after Gage.

Dixie began shouting. "Fred! .....*gasp* Fred! " But then she had to deliver
Roy's next breath again and that effectively ended her screaming
out Dr. Hathaway's name.

Johnny grunted as the crushing weight pressed down excruciatingly.
He lost precious air from his lungs as he tried to get his feet under
himself to get out from under it.

Then he felt a pair of hands lift it away and pull him to the water's
surface. "Easy, fireman. You ok now?" asked Fred.

"Now I am. Get back to my partner, Roy. He's free.
I'm climbing up onto the truck. I hear a winch line and belt coming
down to us!"

Fred let Johnny go. "Ok, be careful. Try not to fall playing the hero." he

Gage flashed him a grin that was only half worry then, for Roy. Soon,
his feet disappeared through the ceiling and above the shattered
waterfalling pipe.

The surgeon waded back over to McCall to cradle her as she worked
to maintain DeSoto. He was now a near drowning case and not breathing
on his own even though his face was easily floating on top of the water.

She told Hathaway why. "He landed on a filled needle, Fred. We don't
know what was in it."

Hathway was soothing to Dixie, to calm her. "Roy's still got a pulse here.
Need a break yet?"

"No.. just keep up. I won't be able to do the same for
you. I'm too weak yet." she gasped, keeping hold of Roy's chin and

"Fair enough. Blow harder. It'll push what water got in,.. out of his lungs."
Fred directed. "He's not distending, so don't worry about that."

Dixie was ever grateful for an anesthesiologist's wisdom. It felt strange
being in Fred's arms again and it brought back memories and sensations
that she had long since forgotten. Emotions rising to the foreground made
her start to cry from stress and shock. Her breaths to Roy faltered.

"Shhh, you're doing fine." Fred told her, kissing the top of her head gently,
shielding her from the falling water with his body. "I'll help you count.
One, two, three...four..five.. Breathe.."

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Dixie breathed.

She let Fred's voice guide her through her mental haze and fear.
::Roy's not going to die, Johnny. I won't let him.:: she promised.


Gage got within arm's reach of Stoker. "Mike! We're here. Lower the rope
farther! Roy's in trouble. He's apneic being assisted. He goes first!"

Stoker bubbled his worry ...and relief.. and started snapping orders.

Kelly, next to him, frowned as he looked at the IR imager's screen.
"Johnny, we're reading four heat signatures down there. I thought it
was just you two and Dixie.."

"Some triage doctor came down after us.." Gage shouted back up.

"That crazy mother---" Vince blew up. He had heard Johnny's comment.
"I'll arrest him as soon as you fellas get his sorry butt back up here!"
he roared.

"Gimme more slack.." Gage said, "And get this stokes outta here. There
isn't the room for it! We'll go with just the belt and pulley. He's hurt his
leg and a foot only."

Chet couldn't contain himself. "How's Dixie?"

"Concussed but fully conscious. She's the one breathing for Roy."

Hank was beside himself. "Oh, L*rd... Need an airway, pal?"

"No, we got one in." said, Gage, guiding the winch lowering cable down
past the truck.  

"That's right. That's probably one from Roy's pockets." Cap said. "I forget
how much he plans ahead for things like that being an ex Viet Nam medic
like he is. Stoker go grab a resuscitator. Then call a doc to get over
here from triage to manage Roy as a critical. And find another paramedic
team to handle our wounded. Gage isn't going to by himself. I won't allow it."

"Right. Back in two minutes." Mike dashed off.

"Cap!" said Johnny once again from the hole.


"Catch this!" Gage said. He tossed up the syringe that he had pulled out of
Roy's back. "Roy got himself stuck on the stuff when the ceiling caved in.
He got a good dose of it, enough to wipe out his breathing. A lab's gonna have
to analyze it so we know how to counteract whatever drug's effecting him."

Hank caught it deftly. "Lopez.. Run. Tell the chief and then make this
your top priority." he told Marco.

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Marco took it one step further and radioed ahead about the syringe
coming to the ER.  "I'll stay with Brackett until he has an answer
for Johnny. I'll have him radio on it as soon as he knows. And
I'll tell Stoker to bring the rest of gear from the squad with him."

Cap nodded. "Ok, sounds like a plan. Move."

Marco needed no encouragement.


Time was standing still. The only thing that seemed to move for
Dixie, was Roy's chest as she made it rise and the gushing water
from the pipe that tried to beat it down again. Even sounds seemed
to still.

Dimly, she heard voices. Johnny's as he slipped a lifebelt around
DeSoto's waist, and Fred's as he helped the paramedic fireman
ready the winch cable.

She hardly felt Gage place a belt around her own waist and she actually
protested with a short cry when he snugged it tight and accidently
disturbed her rhythm of breaths. She allowed them to put a fire helmet
onto her head after they had Roy rope attached.

"Ok, Dixie. Let me at him. You're about to drop." Gage told McCall.

With an effort, Dixie tried to let go. Her cramped hands didn't want
to fall away from Roy's face...until Fred's warm ones peeled them
gently off.

Johnny leaned down and hyperventilated Roy a couple of times mouth
to mouth,.. giving him enough oxygen into his system to last for the fast
winch trip to come through the ceiling.

Roy's feet and knife shredded pants disappeared up into the hole
and into many firefighter hands.

Fred unexpectedly, shouted. "Fireman, you go next. " the surgeon
told Gage. "I'll get Dixie up. You gotta get up there for your partner's
resuscitation care and to act as a go between sharing info with
everybody about that syringe Roy poisoned himself on."

"I can't leave until you two do. You're crazy!" Johnny told him no

"Yes you can. I'm a doctor and I'm giving you, as my paramedic,
a direct order. Go. Leave here. I'll assume full responsibility."

"You can't do that."

"Sure I can. I'm not a victim of yours. I came down here of my own
free will as a fellow rescuer, remember? So my doctor's authority
is still acting over you most thoroughly."

"You're leaving before me. And that's that." Johnny yelled,
thrusting the winch cable at the surgeon.

"Like you're gonna stop me, Gage?" Fred grinned. "I'm bigger than you
by at least hundred pounds." Then he smiled as he cradled Dixie,
who had started shivering violently in a sudden odd muteness. "Someone's
gotta stay down here to make sure her line doesn't foul. Go,
it'll only take a minute. I'll watch her feet as she moves through.
She's getting shocky and I'll never forgive you if she blacks out
from hypothermia due to your delaying." glared Hathaway. "I promise you
I'll come down full guns on you discipline wise if you try anything to
interfere with my decision here. Anything at all. So don't do it."


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"Don't tempt me, paramedic!" Hathway interrupted. "I will file
an official reprimand if you don't go in five seconds. One,..two...

A small whimper from Dixie and the sight of her glazing eyes
decided Johnny. He reluctantly climbed the rope and uptook the one
on Dixie belt. He shouted to the firemen above him. "Another victim's
on the line. Take up my slack! .." He crouched briefly on top of the
crushed truck's hood and met Fred's eyes with a long look of
indecision and reluctance. But then he grew too busy with Dixie to
remain frozen with doubt for long. He climbed up out of vision to
aid in the rope guiding. "Fred, I'll be back for you in less than a minute.
Be ready for my rope. Coil it twice around your belt's loop hook!"

Dixie was halfway up out of the water when the fallen truck tipped sideways
and started falling towards her with a slow creeping roar.

Fred didn't hesitate as he leaped at the nurse to tuck Dixie's feet safely
up into the ceiling and out of danger. He sighed with a smile when his
hand fell away from her shoes as he came down again.
::I did it. I saved her. This is more than a fair enough trade. My life for hers.
Thank you, G*d, for letting me be there for her one last time. Goodbye, Dixie.
All my love. Kel, you take good care of her, you hear?:: he wished.

Hathaway had a few seconds to turn then, to fully embrace the truck that
was inexorably cascading its five ton weight down the debris pile, on its
slow approaching way, to killing him.

Fred was still smiling when the impact forced the air out of his lungs
and bore him deep under the dark frothing water.


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Gage startled. He was by Stoker, who was crouched intently over Roy,
giving him badly needed supported breaths with the demand valve.
He had heard the deep throated grind of falling weight that had
belched from the hole. "Did you get him?" he demanded of the fire crews.

"We're still pulling up the slack..." admitted the fireman manning the winch.

Just then, engineers managed to shut off the water main and
the flood died away into soft drops which echoed off the truck

Cheering, the firefighters picked up their retrieval's pace.

Inch by inch, the surgeon's rope was coiled on the wheel.

On the ground, nestled in a stokes and being blanket and oxygen
tended by paramedics, Dixie saw ....the torn, frayed end of it come into
view. The life belt that should have been around the surgeon's waist
had been ripped clean away from the line and it was missing.
The fibers there were red with blood.

"I've just lost the heat signature! I've lost sight of the last victim!"
cried the camera operator, still looking through the infrared imager's
viewscreen. The full meaning of what that meant shadowed painfully on
Johnny's face, driving the full impact of the reality of Fred's sudden
death, home to McCall.

"No!!!... Oh, G*d, no...." Dixie sobbed. "Fred...? Fred!!"

The surgeon couldn't.. and would never,.. respond to her cries.

Johnny, knelt by Dixie's stretcher, and took her hand, numbly.
"Dixie, I'm sorry. He left me no choice but to leave...."

Dixie's turned a shivering, tear filled gaze onto her friend and
rescuer. "I knew Fred would do that. I think I knew that the moment he
started arguing with you. That's why I went so numb.. I...Oh, G*d,
don't blame yourself. He was ...always pushy, Johnny. And that's
why I loved him so much..." she choked up, crying in gasps as
her waterchilled shock began to rule her once more.

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"Go take care of your partner, Gage. Don't let that man's sacrifice
be for nothing, ok?" snapped the paramedic working on the nurse.
"Or I'll start doing some butt kicking,.. real fast."

Johnny went.

From: "wone3" <>
Date: Mon Nov 28, 2005  11:54 am
Subject: Absolution and Grief  

Johnny kept Stoker aiding Roy's breathing even as the medic team
started to move Roy to triage.

Marco had made record time in getting to Dr. Brackett and getting
the syringe analyzed. Fortunately for all involved, it was a benzodiazepine
derivative that wouldn't pose any other side effects.

Brackett had the medication's name, Versed, radioed over to the
triage team in short order and ordered incremental intravenous bolus
injections of flumazenil to counteract the symptoms via I.V.

Based on the estimated dosage that Roy took into his system, Kel
knew that Roy would only potentially have troubles for the next six hours
or so. :: He will most likely sleep through that entire time and be fine
when he wakes up.:: Dr. Brackett thought.

It was during the syringe analysis that both Marco and Dr. Brackett
heard of Dr. Fred Hathaway's demise through Marco's HT.


Dixie was next moved back to the triage area. The entire triage staff
felt as though the weight of the world was off their shoulders and there
was a general sense of relief seeing that particular stretcher.

Joe Early saw her stokes coming and he couldn't have been more
thankful to see one of his best friends still alive.

As he came up to her, he saw her red, tear filled eyes, noting her shivering
body. And he could see the concussion signs that he had been radioed
about before she arrived. Joe knew what had basically happened
at the hole as well. "Hi, Dix. I should ask you how you are feeling emotionally
but I think I have a clue at least a bit about how you feel. Fred was a
special doctor and I know you cared about him quite a bit. How are
you feeling physically though?"

"Hi, Joe, I have a big headache that just won't quit, and my body's
cold and numb. But as far as I can tell, no broken bones or internal
injuries. I was knocked unconscious for a while though."  The tears
came to her eyes again as she started to speak about the now dead
doctor. "He pushed me out of the way of the falling truck and took
the hit himself. Why, Joe, why?" she said in a sorrowful voice that
had been crying seemingly nonstop.

Joe placed his hand reassuringly on her shoulder as he continued his
evaluation of her. "I'm not entirely sure of the why Dixie. I do
know that he came here looking for you before he went over there. I
also tend to think that, even though you two broke it off between yourselves,
that you both were still harboring feelings for each other. Am I right?"

Dixie did all that she could do between her sobbing gasps,
and that was just to carefully nod her head. She didn't do it too much
as the headache she had, still wouldn't quit.

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Joe finished up with the exam and told her that she'd be spending
the next day or two upstairs in the hospital. "Today will be just for the
neurological checks. You'll stay tomorrow, too, so you can catch up
on sleep from the checks and so we can make sure nothing else
creeps up." he explained.

Dixie didn't even put up a fight, which kind of surprised Joe. But he
understood with the mood that she was in after all that happened. He
motioned to the two orderlies to take her inside Rampart and he told them
to let admitting know that he'd fill out her paperwork once he was done

They took McCall upstairs to her room for the night, afterwards.

It was several hours later.

Kel was out checking on some last minute details on a few patients
before he left for the night after his absolutely nightmarish shift.

He couldn't believe that Fred Hathaway was gone.
But was he was thankful that Fred had come through for Dixie.
Just like he'd told Kel that he WOULD do.

And Kel wouldn't have had it any other way if it helped his other
friends. Johnny had told Brackett most of the story of what had happened
to Fred while being checked out by the doctor. Kel had known about the
water and Johnny's near mishap with the truck, too. ::Johnny couldn't
avoid trouble if he tried. :: he thought.

Dr. Brackett had been saving two patients for last on the rounds; partially
out of the guilt trip he was experiencing and partially because he
wanted to spend more time with Dixie, Johnny and Roy, who happened
to be, what he considered as close friends.

Johnny and Roy he still had to thank for risking their lives saving
Dixie. And as for McCall, he felt he had to apologize for getting
her into that situation in the first place.

Perhaps he would add some reassurances to all during the rest of
the chain of events to come.

He stopped by the nurse's desk on their floor and grabbed his
patients' charts. They were only a couple of doors down from each
other. Kel went to the paramedics' room first, mainly because it
would be easier to deal with them and get the thank you out of the
way. He was not relishing the idea of facing Dixie yet, as he wasn't
sure of the words to use for both apology and reassurance.

Kel came to the partially shut door and knocked. He entered even as
Gage acknowledged him with a come in call.

Roy Desoto occupied the bed still recuperating from his Versed
intake and an ankle injury. Roy wasn't awake but he was sleeping
peacefully, off the ventilator finally.

Kel saw that Johnny Gage had taken residence in the chair next to his
partner. ::Has he been there ever since I allowed him to leave the ER?::
he asked himself mentally. ::I did tell Johnny and Captain Stanley that
Johnny would have to miss the next shift after all that had happened
down in the hole.:: he surmised. Johnny had put up his usual fuss but
Kel knew he wouldn't get his way.

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"Hi, doc. What brings you through here this time of night?" Johnny
said as he slowly took in Kel's appearance. Gage could see through Kel's
tired guilt ridden eyes and facial features. He realized Kel still hadn't
granted himself absolution over the entire situation with Dixie yet.
The paramedic knew that he'd have to step carefully in part of the
conversation to come.

"What are you doing here, Johnny? I thought I told you to go home and
get some rest. I came to check up on Roy mainly. But it looks like
I also guessed correctly that you'd still be here. I hoped to talk to you both.
But I can tell now that I'll have to wait until later to talk to Roy." Kel
answered with both a sense of purpose and a bit of joking.

"You look like you really have something else on your mind though,
doc." Johnny answered.

"Yes, I do have something on my mind, Johnny. I want to say what I
have to say to you without being interrupted if possible, o.k.?"

Johnny nodded as Kel continued.

"I want to thank you for taking your life into your own hands,
saving Dixie from the fire. I know she means a lot to both of you.
She means a lot, to a whole lot of people and I am not sure what we'd do
without her. Fortunately, this time we won't have to find out, thanks
to you two and the rest of the firefighters who responded. And
don't say you were just doing your job. Because, from what I heard is
left of the lab space down there, you had to have been doing
something special just to survive then. I also hope you aren't
blaming yourself for Dr. Hathaway's death. He was the type of
doctor that would stubbornly give up everything to save a patient
and this time, ....he did." added Kel with a touch of melancholy.

Johnny decided to be blunt in responding, "We WERE just doing our
jobs, but I am glad you think we did something special down there.
Dixie does mean a lot to me, all of us; but I think she means
even more to you, doc. I'm glad none of us had to find out what
life would've been like without her around. I'm just sorry that we didn't
get Dr. Hathaway out in time before the truck got him. And you're right,
I do feel guilty about that, but I know that I'm not G*d. Every situation is
not going to be a happily ever after scenario. Doc, the fire wasn't
your fault and Dixie being down there getting hurt wasn't either. Dixie
was doing her job, checking on those results. It was simply her being
in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yes, I do know about these

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Kel thought about what Johnny just said. He cracked a smile and
started to chuckle. "You are right, Johnny. Especially about that
part of her being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don't stay too
long. Go home and get some sleep. Your partner will be fine here."

Johnny couldn't help but get caught up in Kel's laughter, "Go talk
to her, doc. She'll tell you the same thing about the fire. And she
really needs you to deal with Dr. Hathaway's death I think."

Kel walked to the door and turned around, "That's where I'm headed
now, Johnny. Thanks for the talk." He walked through the open door
and shut it behind him. He left it as he had found it when he first entered.


Kel walked down the hallway past a couple of doors to Dixie's room.

Again the door was cracked open but Kel went ahead and knocked as
he entered. He could hear Dixie's quiet crying as he entered.
:: I know Fred meant a bunch to you, Dix, but something must have
happened down there that I don't know about. I need to tread carefully
with you through this:: he thought to himself.

Dixie took in Kel's appearance through red eyes. She could see guilt
hidden in his eyes and his melancholic facial features. :: I know you so well
Kel. You are feeling very guilty about me having been downstairs when the
fire started. :: she thought.

She saw that he had what she assumed to be her chart in his hands.
And she knew that he'd start with small talk first using that before
he would try to apologize. ::I'll let him start. :: she decided.

"You're doing good, Dixie. Your concussion symptoms seem to be
lessening and nothing else is showing up. After another day in here
and a few days at home, you should be just fine physically." he told
her. ::Thank God:: he mentally added. "Dix, we need to talk. I want
to start by saying.." he voiced.

Dixie interrupted in a firm tone, though not in her typical no nonsense
tone, but one that still had some authority behind it. "Kel
Brackett. Don't you think about starting to apologize to me. There
is nothing to apologize for. And yes, I have been talking to Joe,
Mike, a few other concerned doctors, and my nursing staff about how
you have been acting since this whole thing started. You aren't G*d,
Kel. You can't stop time just when things go wrong. You're human
and you have feelings like the rest of us. There is no reason for
this guilt trip you're harboring. So it's time to drop it. Right here in
this room and right now. I was doing my job, just like everybody else
in this hospital was doing when the fire broke out. It was just a case
of my being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.... I.." She
paused for a second as that last bit sunk in, realizing what she had
said. She started to break down again, crying. "Gee, I sound so much
like Johnny saying that. How are the guys doing by the way?"

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Kel cracked a very small smile as he listened to her talk. :: I
knew this would come from you, Dix. You know what to say to me to get
my mind straight again. We do know each other way too well. ::
"They are both doing fine. They're just a couple of doors down from you.
Right now, Johnny is watching out for Roy for a bit, even
though I told him to go home a few hours ago. Gage's going to miss
one shift, though, just as a precaution. And Roy shouldn't suffer any
side effects from the Versed dose that he suffered. He should
be able to go home in a couple of days and he'll be back on shift
most likely, within a week."
He paused then to carefully change the subject. "Johnny told me the
story of what happened down there as far as he knew it. I think
there is something else going on here though. Something that maybe
only you know about. Fred was a great guy. He told me that he'd get
you out of there and help you and he did."

With that Dixie broke down and started sobbing even more heavily
if it were possible.

Kel just held her and tried to reassure her.

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Click this music link for Dixie's theme

She kept on crying for several minutes.

Once Dixie regained her composure, she went on. "Fred and Johnny
were arguing about who should go out last. Fred ordered Johnny to
go up so he could help on top with Roy and play the go between as
the only information source on what had happened down below. Fred
even told Johnny that he'd watch my rope for me and that he alone
should be the one to do it. I went quiet at that point to make it easier
for Johnny to decide. I was so scared for both of them then, Kel.
I know Johnny wasn't happy, but he went. Then I was next and
as I was halfway up..." The tears started to threaten to return and
a lump hit her throat but she continued. " I was halfway up, the
truck which had pinned Roy and Johnny in, started to sway and
it headed right towards me. Fred pushed me up as far away from it
as he could reach. Then ...I- I think he took the hit of the
truck full force, Kel. He pushed me out of the way... Why, Kel?" The
tears started, but not as heavily as she had cried before.  

Kel tried to reassure her, "Fred and I talked about you as things
were happening. We both admitted to each other that we still had
feelings for you. Fred knew that I couldn't go look for you. He
knew that he could, Dix, so he promised to do me that favor.
He told me before he started out that he'd make sure you'd come
back and I think that we both know that he would've done whatever
he had to do to live up to that promise. I'm not sure what in his mind made
him think that your life was more valuable than his during those last
moments, but I am sure glad that he did what he did do to get you out
of there. Dix, Fred needs some sort of recognition and I think a memorial
service of some sort would help all of us deal with what he did for us
that caused his death. What do you think of that idea?"

"I like the idea of memorial service for Fred. And I am glad to hear that the
guys are going to be just fine. That certainly helps making Fred's death
feel not quite as bad you know? " Dix stated softly with a yawn as she
really took in his appearance. "You look so tired, Kel." she sighed.
He DID look exhausted to her. And she knew he must have had a busy shift
past the incident which had occurred at the hospital to look so haggard.
::His guilt .. or his relief over what happened to me is just sinking in.
Perhaps he's feeling a combination of both.:: she thought.

"Well, this is the end of shift for me and I'm going home to bed for some
sleep, which something that you need to do, too. Your yawn has just told
as much. So I'm going to bid you a good night, Dix. Try and get some
sleep. Even if you're still feeling bad about all this. Hold on to the
thought of how much a whole lot of people, including Fred, cared about
you then." he told her with a special twinkle in his eyes as he crossed
the room to the door. He opened it just enough to exit.

He heard her call out good night to him and then the small sobbing continued
as he walked down the hall. He knew that she would probably cry herself to sleep
but as he stopped at the desk to replace the charts, he saw that Joe had a
very mild sedative prescribed for Dixie once the neurological checks were done
for when she really needed help falling asleep. :: Good thinking, Joe. I guess
she told you about everything, too, huh? :: He thought to himself.

Kel continued to walk down the hall after his stop at the nurse's
desk and he started to make plans for the service.


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From: "Champagne Scott" <>
Date: Wed Nov 30, 2005  11:00 am
Subject: Food for Thought..:)

It was a week later.

Johnny and Roy had just dropped off a sprained elbow
into treatment room five into the hands of Dr. Morton when
a shocking sight stopped Gage right in his tracks.
He slapped his partner's chest to get his attention. "Look
over there, Roy. Wow, I wonder who's chart that is?" he asked.

Both of them eyeballed Dr. Brackett as he staggered a bit
with it until a passing orderly craftily kicked a wheelchair his
way in a strong hint for him to use it to cart the thick bundle.

Dixie and Joe Early rushed from the ER's front desk to help
him with it.

The two paramedics ambled into that direction.

"Hi docs. Dixie.." said Roy.

"Oh, hi fellas.." McCall greeted warmly. "So it's back to
business as usual today. No more restricted duty?"

"None." Roy said. "I feel like a million bucks today."

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Johnny leaned into Brackett as he centered the foldered pile
in the middle of the seat so that it wouldn't slide around.
"Private citizen's? Or firefighter's, doc?" he whispered about
the massively thick chart.

Kel looked up and smiled at the question. "Neither. This is
the usual adminstrative claptrap that any department head goes
through whenever anyone tries to petition management to
up the annual spending budget."

"You have to go through THAT much paperwork just to get a new
lab building built?"

"Yep. And that's not all I have to do. There will be a formal investigation
into the final actions that Dr. Hathaway took that were against hospital
protocol to safeguard such an occurrance from ever happening
again in the future." said Kel. "I have to submit a personal deposition
on that outlining my supervisory role that day and how I could have
prevented the incident."

A pause silenced them all when Dixie sharply looked away at the
unexpected mention of Fred's name. She fought back a stab of
bubbling grief that made the firemen uncomfortable simply because
they had witnessed her still vulnerable emotional weakness.

Johnny gave her a hug around the shoulders with an arm offered
in pure companionship. He didn't have to say anything aloud
to comfort her. The way she relaxed against him as she wiped
away the saltiness from her eyes was all he needed to feel.

The others pretended not to see Dixie's emotional slip that had
gotten out in public.

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Roy changed the subject, and shammed looking relieved.
"So,..all that's red tape? Whew. For a minute there, I thought you
were carrying Johnny's chart to add closing notes to, Dr. Brackett."

Gage let go of Dixie, indignant at his amused, larger partner.
"Very funny, Roy. You know, after this week, I think the size of
yours is fast catching up to the size of MY patient record."

"Not quite, Johnny." said Dixie. "Roy's is still a few pounds shy
of yours on tipping the scales." McCall teased.

"I win that argument. I got you beat with this one, guys." said Kel,
hefting up the finance requisition forms folder that he needed to
peruse in order to get construction repairs going on the new
subterranean wing.  "And it'll take about three hours just to
skim read it all."

Gage's mouth flopped open.
"Can't you get someone else to do that? What about your
physician's assistant? Can't she do that for you enough
to show you where to put all your signatures?"

"Nope." Brackett replied evenly.

"What a load of--" Gage sympathized.

"Well, it's the money that counts in the end, Johnny, not the thought."
Kel nodded.

"And in Fred's case, it was the thought that counted, not the
recklessness, Kel. And I'm gonna tell the board exactly
how I feel so his immediate family will still get all of his
life insurance benefit."  said Joe.

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Brackett grinned. "I'll help you on that one.
The other good news is that no one is going to get sued
for anything even remotely related to the fire. The whole thing
was ruled as an accident concerning that leaking oxygen tank
and responsibility for that electrical wire shorting out was found
to be nobody's. It was ruled that its deterioration was just the
simple effect of normal metallic aging."

Joe Early cut in. "I'm starving. Who wants to go to the cafeteria
with me for a little lunch? It's time for my half."

Everyone raised their hands while the two paramedics raised
their HT antennaes.


The five of them clustered around the biggest table under the
eucalyptus tree and as soon as they sat down, they dove into
their trays with abandon.

Nothing was said for long minutes as fries, soda and chips
disappeared in rapid order.

Then McCall opened up conversation.
"Did you know that Kel actually got down on his knees and proposed
to me twice this week?" she tossed out to them, laughing.

"Really?" said Johnny, perking up at that particularly unexpected
gossipy news.

"Yeah, he was helping me with my socks then when I couldn't bend
over without feeling like my head was gonna pop off."

"That passed." Kel told her.

"So it did. But I can't say that I don't miss the special attention."

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Roy and Johnny cleared their throats and just bit into both their
burgers as they watched a full rise of red color Brackett's face.

But then, Kel surprised them all by saying. "Ok, I can fix that
Dixie. You and me. Tonight. At my place for a steak dinner. And
don't bring the wine. You aren't ready medically to handle
metabolizing such a stuporific yet."

"Of course, Dr. Brackett. I wouldn't deviate from one of your patient
care plans for all the world." Dixie giggled. Then she leaned into
Roy and Johnny. "I promise to tell you how the date goes.
Watch for the high sign when Kel's not looking tommorrow."
she whispered.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing, doc." Roy said, suddenly becoming
mischievous. "You aren't gonna be disappointed at the end of the
evening when it's time for the big goodbye. Dixie's an absolutely
fabulous kisser. And I'm speaking from experience."

"You remember me helping you?!" Dixie asked, stunned, growing
pale with mortification.

Brackett purpled. "Not with all that Versed on board, he couldn't!"
Then Kel swallowed, "Could you?" he asked the blonde paramedic.

Roy just winked at them and said nothing at all.


Episode Twenty Seven, Heavy Duty

Emergency Theater Live


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