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Within Sight
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        Page Three

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Dix was helping redirect the exam table light
down onto Chet's hands so Rivers could
see what he was doing. "About the same.
You could go up and visit him if you'd like."

"Hey... I wanna come too." Chet said,
trying to sit up. Roy, Gage and Dr. Early
all held him down onto the gurney.
Kelly stared at the ceiling, grinning like an
idiot and he added.
"Glad my ploy worked and I got here to Rampart
so I can see him while still on duty. Thanks,
Gage. Thanks, DeSoto, for playing along..." Kelly
said, muzzily serious.

"Who's playing, Chet? Your hands are really
busted..  And Cap took you OFF duty." Roy
informed him.

"Now keep still."Gage told him firmly.
Then he looked up and mouthed to Dix and the
docs, "Want us to strap him down?" he said from
the corner of his mouth.

Joe smiled and shook his head. "He seems
cooperative enough. And that MS will be wearing
off in a few minutes. I'll change it over to
Meperidine so he won't be so tripped out
before we get started setting those fractured

"Think he'll need surgery, doc?" Roy asked

"No. These breaks I can manually reduce
right here. The x-rays will confirm what I'm
seeing now when they come through." Craig admitted.
"Listen, has Chet ever broken his hands before?
That may effect his recovery time; from a few
days to perhaps two weeks or so."

"Nah, doc. He's been living a charmed life.
No fractures, even after eight years with
the fire department." Gage told him.

Roy concurred. "It's the rest of us who
haven't been so lucky."

"Really.." Rivers said conversationally
polite. He didn't inquire further.

Gage looked up at Dix. "And Stoker's
number's up for the first time. He's the one
Chet was so upset about. Say, Dr. Early.
Can we leave to go check up on Stoker?
Think you three can handle Chet on your
own down here?"

"Yeah, sure Johnny. Go right ahead.
We'll make sure Kelly behaves himself
while we get him squared away and into
a pair of hand casts." Joe said.

"See you in a bit, Chet.. Now stay put."

"Righto, Johnny boy...." Kelly giggled.

Dix mumbled to them as they passed.
"He's in ICU six, second floor." so Chet
wouldn't hear.

"Thanks Dix, we'll be back in a few.." Roy said,
holding up his walkie talkie.

"I've got a fresh coffee pot on by the call
station.." Dix added. "Help yourselves."

Roy and Johnny left the room.

"Hey, bring me some...." Chet piped up.
"I'm thirsty!" he shouted belatedly.

Dix turned back to the bed. "Sorry,
Kelly. You're NPO for a while because
of that lovely pain med you took in
the rear. " she guessed, seeing no IV
hanging by Chet's head.  Then she
looked up at the docs. "Want a line
started for that Meperidine backup?"

Joe sighed and nodded. "Looks like
we need it if he's feeling dry. Make it
a 500 cc Normal Saline Drip, wide open.
We'll crank it down when he's better
hydrated. He probably lost some fluid
volume working that punching bag so

"I'll get right on it.." Dixie answered,
moving to the Treatment Room
drug cabinet to find the proper IV and
set up. She took off the stethoscope
that she had been using to take a vitals
set on him. "BP's steady. 126/68.
Pulse 90, Respirations 22."

"So he really is thirsty.." Joe concluded
from Chet's heart rate.

"Looks like it." Rivers said from where
he had his head band light down over his
eyes while he gently probed how each
knuckle displacement situated with each
finger on Kelly's hands.

Chet started humming tunelessly again,
lost in his drugged stupor, while Rivers and
Early started to set up the equipment and
things they would need to set Chet's

X-ray arrived to take pictures
after Dix was through starting and
stringing Chet's IV on a pole, and
everyone vacated the room until the
films were finished being exposed.


Roy and Johnny felt small went they
entered Mike Stoker's critical care room.

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Despite all their know how and training,
the sight of the respirator and all the tubes
in place around Mike took them aback.

Stoker was still and ghastly white under
the dim light of the bed's wall illumination.
The soot that had covered him had been
washed away and all his face burns were
shiny with silvadene.

Johnny nodded a silent greeting
to the nurse sitting by Mike's bed and
stepped forward, being careful not to disturb
any of the connections to the machines
monitoring him. Gage set a hand on Mike's
arm. He was relieved to find Stoker's skin
warm and dry, unlike the cold clamminess he
remembered from the fire when they had
found Kelly's report of Stoker's arrested state
to be true.

Roy asked the nurse, "Has he tried to fight
the airway yet?"

She shook her head apologetically and smiled.
"Want me to leave you alone for a few minutes?"
she asked.

Gage didn't say anything but he felt his head
nod yes and dimly, he was aware that Roy was
nodding, too.

Roy and Johnny didn't even notice the intensive
care nurse depart, leaving the three of them alone.

Johnny felt his eyes lock onto Mike's tightly
bandaged ones and he shifted his grip to Mike's
hand, squeezing it.

Johnny just swallowed, finding himself unable to

Roy leaned down close to Mike's ear when he
saw Johnny falter, and he asked for him.
"Hey Stoker.. It's just us. How are you doing?
Looks like the nurses and doctors are taking
really good care of you here.." DeSoto
smiled. "Your EKG looks good. And it's probably
not long before the docs will lift your sedation so
you can begin to wake up."

Johnny just continued to hang onto Mike's
hand, listening to his partner talk, lost in a worried
haze as he watched the respirator breathe for
his friend in its slow artificial pattern. Gage's
uncharacteristic quietness made Roy keep up a
running dialogue to quell his own unspoken fears.

Roy sighed, and grimaced, patting Mike's blanketed
shoulder. "Cap's made some progress on who
started that fire. Your instincts were right. That
warehouse was a case of arson. Some kids involved
so far, and for some reason, Cap's protecting their
identities, perhaps to get his witness to give up
more information... W- We'll get to the bottom of

Johnny still didn't say anything.

Roy began to fidget in the chair where he sat
and he gave Johnny his privacy by not looking at
him. "You'll never guess how Johnny and I got
to come up here after visiting hours like this.
You're not going to believe this. Chet went one
on one with the locker room punching bag and lost.
Busted six knuckles as far as Johnny and I could
tell. We'll get him up here to see you as soon
as he's finished getting patched up."
DeSoto put on a brave smile, as if the expression
would somehow translate into his voice for Mike's
benefit. "He was pretty upset he couldn't do more
for you after he dug you out. But he did a good
job keeping you breathing until Johnny, he and
I could get you outta there and to the 02 and all
our gear. You left us for a bit then, but we managed to
shock you back after only a couple of minutes' work."

Roy's eyes were following Mike's EKG and he was
heartened that it had picked up a bit while he
continued to talk. Johnny didn't miss the responsive
signs either and his expression brightened. Finally,
Gage found his voice. "Yeah, we were lucky. D*mned
lucky. Oh, you might notice when you wake that
your eyes are bandaged. That's from that hot water
pipe that broke above you when the roof gave way
so you just concentrate on getting better and-- and...
and thinking positively about that because we really
want ya back at the station as soon as possible.
Doesn't feel the same without you. " Johnny grinned
tightly. "We're not the only ones who feel that way.
You'll never guess who showed up just as we
were taking Chet to the hospital to get his hands
set. I'll give you a hint. He's brown, hairy and has
four legs."

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Roy chuckled. "Yep. It's Boot. Went right to the engine,
looking for ya. No doubt he's got plans to keep the
seat warm until you get better. So get better, kay?"

Mike didn't move. But the EKG didn't slow its
reactive rate either. DeSoto and Gage got to
their feet and waved the nurse at the ICU desk
back into the room, indicating that their visit was
over. She left her post and came back into the

Johnny asked her. "How long has he been listening
to people like this?" he asked throwing a hand
at the overhead EKG above the bed.

The nurse fussed with Stoker's pillows and
blankets before settling back into her
observation chair at his bed's foot. "Oh, for about
an hour now. Looks like his sedation's wearing off

"That's great. That's great." Johnny said quietly.
"Would you give us a call when he's extubated?
It would really mean a lot to all of us guys
at the station to know he's snapping out of it,
know what I mean...? We also want to know about
his.. well, whether or not he can.... you know."

"See? " the young nurse suggested. "I think I can
do that. You two are with 51's right?"

"Yeah.." Roy replied.

"Dixie's got your number and I can get that
easily enough. I'm here until eleven and I will call
when it happens."

"Thanks. We ah, we really appreciate it.."

"No problem.." she said, turning back to
watch Stoker's EKG and respirator's venting rate.

DeSoto conducted his partner out the door without
saying a word, excusing them both from the room.

Out in the hall, Johnny asked. "Wow, do you think he
was really hearing us in there?"

"Johnny, now you know better than to doubt what
your eyes are telling you. Of course he heard us. Someone
would have to be dead to not hear you." he quipped.

"Very funny." Gage frowned, then he smiled. "Hey,
Chet's gonna like this news. " then he remembered.
"Ooo, but he's probably getting his knuckles set right
now. I hate being in the room when fractures are
getting reduced. Why don't you and I wait it out
in the nurse's lounge?"

An amused grin filled Roy's face. "All right. I'll give in
to your one squeamish tendency..Know that the
coffee's bound to be old in there."

Johnny was already halfway to the elevator.
"Umm hmm.." he replied. "But it's out of earshot
of Chet's treatment room."


"No, just.. selective.. If I was a fan of medieval
torturing practices, I'd be there." Gage said,
uncomfortably rubbing nervous hands on
his shirt's front.

"Chet's gonna be given Versed. He'll
feel the initial setting of his knuckles the second
it happens, but then he'll forget about it right
away the moment it's over. That's the beauty
of that particular drug." Roy suggested.

"I know.. I know.." Johnny twitched with
a shiver. "I just have .....never been able
to convince myself that it really works that
way. Screams are screams."

Roy grinned, but he was very merciful for
a six year paramedic partner. "Come on
junior.  Let's go hide out then, until it's over."

"Thanks.." Gage said wanly.


Back at the station house, the gang was all wearing
their night pullup trousers and boots despite
being out of service for the rest of the early dawn until
their called replacements could arrive to fill Chet
and Stoker's places on the engine. They were in
a circle around the engine's open cab door.

"Now that's devotion.." Cap said, not minding Boot's
muddy paws resting where the scraggly dog
lay, dusty from the many miles he must have
travelled to get from ten's to 51's. "Looks like
we're going to have to get a prybar to get him
outta that driver's seat."

Marco plunked Henry's old bowl down full of
left over hamburger on the concrete floor and
Boot was out of the engine like a cannon shot
for the grub. Lopez grinned. "Or a bowl of vittles."

Hank closed the engine's door after brushing off
the dirt from the seat onto the stone floor with
satisfaction. Both men crouched over the dog,
caressing his fur affectionately. "Good boy, nice
to see you again. Hope you stay a long time."
they coo-ed.

Then Marco said, "Even Mike's gonna love
seeing you ag--" he broke off, fighting a sob.

Boot stopped eating immediately and looked
up, staring into Marco's face. He whined, setting
his paws on Marco's shoulders and he licked his
face once before turning back to wolf down
his dinner.

Lopez laughed and grimaced, wiping dog food
and dirt off his cheek. "Gee, can't hide anything
from you, Boot."

"Guess not." Cap agreed, standing. "Give
him a good B-A-T-H when he's through in
the locker room tub, all right? I'll get breakfast

"You're cooking?"

"Yeah.. got a problem with that?" Hank challenged.

"No. Just never ever remember you doing that
before, Cap." Marco said, sheepishly.

"First time for everything. Sort of like Boot here
coming back to a firehouse he's already visited.."

"I guess.." Lopez said, affectionately patting Boot's
sides until he was warned off with a don't-bug-me,
I'm-eating growl from Boot. "Ok.. ok. Uncle. Lick
that clean when you're done big fella.." he said,

Cap made his way into the kitchen and the empty
chairs there. Through the window, he could already
see the light of dawn peeking through the cracks of
the shade pulled down there. Foregoing decorum,
Cap pulled up on the shade, letting in the rich rising sun's
light into the room until it flooded the kitchen in a
tawny glow. Its warmth felt good after a sleepless
night and soon, he felt comfortably relaxed despite

Then Cap turned to the frig to plan out breakfast.
It took a force of will to taper down portions on
the stove enough for five only instead of the usual
six. ::I hope Roy and Johnny make time to run
up to Stoker's room to check up on him. I hate
not knowing how he's doing.::

Marco and Cap had eaten already and three
full plates were sitting in the oven, keeping warm,
when they heard the garage doors rumble open
with the squad's return.

Roy and Johnny wearily entered the kitchen
and sat down in the chairs. Boot immediately
went for Roy's lap where he sat, sniffing his
hands and shirt eagerly. "Yeah, boy, we all saw
him. Stoker's doing ok. " he said to both
dog and Cap. "He's even listening up when
spoken to."

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"That's good news.." Hank said. "Chow's in
the oven.. Where's Kelly?"

"Sleeping it off." Gage replied. "I sent him to
his bunk. Gonna be another hour before the
meds the docs gave him wear off enough for
him to feel hungry. Then I'll take him home if
there's time, before our replacements arrive."

"Who's coming?" Roy asked.

Cap said, "Don't rightly know. The Chief didn't
say any names. Remind me to have Chet talk
to McConike before he ships outta here. There's
that message the Chief wants to give him.."

"What message?" Johnny said. " 'Don't forget your
gloves again, Kelly' kind of message? I fell for
that once from you, remember?"

Hank laughed. "No, actually. He wouldn't tell me
over the phone. Said it was between him and Kelly."

Johnny and Roy's face fell. They suddenly knew what it

Roy finally said the unthinkable. "The chief's aiming
at Kelly taking Stoker's engineering spot, isn't he?"

Cap didn't say anything. Then he just nodded.
"Most likely, if things don't pan out for the best
with Stoker's eyesight."

Gage slammed his mug down on the table.
"Well, isn't that just lovely. Mike's not even six
hours back from near death, and already, McConike's
washing him up..."

Cap turned appraising eyes on his fiery paramedic.
"Now Gage, you know this is just backup contingency.
No one is retiring anybody just yet."

"Then why that for Kelly's-ears-only phone call...?"
Johnny asked bitterly.

To that, Cap had no easy answer.

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An hour later, Chet arose from his recuperative nap
and made his way into the kitchen, "Oh man, I feel
like something Boot dragged in. Hiya, Boot." he said.

"How are the hands?" Roy asked, pulling up
a chair and pouring a mug of coffee out
for him.

"Thick. But they don't hurt much anymore."

"That's the Versed.." Johnny smirked with
amusement. "Wait until later when that memory
blocker starts to wear off."

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Within Sight
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