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 The Promise
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Page Three

Gage improvised a seal using the positive
pressure valve's mouth port and the teen boy's
under a firm grip where he treaded in the water.
He delivered two breaths in time with Bobby's
inhalations. The teen started to moan as
he awoke, partially revived.

Johnny took his own turn on the oxygen valve.
"Cap, we could use three new air bottles down

"We're cutting a hole through to you now.
Watch for Stoker's rope. Only expect another
demand valve unit to buddy breathe on. It's smaller.
This one's got a mask." Cap shouted. "Two minutes

Right then, the hiss of O2 that Roy tried to deliver to
Kelsey's airway secured lungs, faded away.

Their critical lifeline, had just run out.

Gage quipped. "How long can you hold your
breath, Roy?" he asked seriously.  

"As long as necessary. If we black out in
here, we'll all die of drowning. Here, I've cut away
the stoke's straps, all but the one holding her
shoulders. Use them to tie you and him to
those metal struts here. If we do fall unconscious,
at least our heads won't go under. I've already rigged
hers and mine as well as I can." Roy said, his suggestion
breaking off into a paroxysm of choking coughs as
freon mist began to invade the flooded tower's
air chamber.

Right away, Johnny could hear Roy's prior left lung
trouble flaring up in complaint liquidly.

"Great, poison air for your barely healed
water lung." Johnny said sarcastically.  "Breathe
more shallowly, Roy. You're getting off color already."

"*Wheeze* T-That's from the cold.." DeSoto shivered,
wedging Kelsey's stokes more firmly onto the angle
of sheeting he had found to support her weight against
the tower wall. "I- I'm fine.. " DeSoto choked.
"Worry about your own complexion instead, ok?"

Gage ignored him. "Cap. We need that spare
O2 on the double! Roy's getting into trouble here."

Gage startled as his partner's head sagged suddenly
and Johnny lunged to catch it as DeSoto half passed out,
falling lax into his improvised strap harness tied
to the tower wall. "Oh no you don't.." Johnny said.
"Snap out of it, Roy. You're ok.. Now come on..
It's not that stuffy in here." he said, slapping
Roy's damp face lightly to rouse him.
"The freon's hardly noticable yet.."

*Cough* DeSoto reacted weakly. "I...I..."

"What, Roy? You what? Come on. Don't black
out on me. I need ya conscious. I can't watch
both of these guys on my own." Gage urged tensely. A
suffocation jag of gas drifted down, and gave him his
own uncomfortable moments of feeling like
he was getting no air at all into his lungs.
"Cap....!" he shouted hoarsely when he had recovered.

"One minute Gage!" Hank promised.

"That's a minute too late, guys. Roy's just went out on me
here.." Johnny shouted, tipping Roy's head back to make
sure his breathing continued unimpaired. "This sh*t's
*gasp* awful. We can't breathe it in for much longer.
Bobby's going bad, too." Gage coughed.

Bobby began to turn blue when he quit trying to breathe
fifteen seconds later.

Johnny gave him a breath mouth to mouth
and a second one before the teen sucked in some
of his own again unaided.

The world began to swim before Gage's eyes.

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"Gage.. Grab it!.. Stoker's lowering the tank on
a line to ya and the rest of us are K-twelving a side
hatch to drain you guys out with the water.." Cap
said urgently.

In a stuporous haze, Johnny saw the second
resuscitator, tied in a rope hitch, swaying in front
of him. But it was as if his arms refused to work.

"Johnny. Grab it and use it on yourself first.."
Hank's voice shouted through Johnny's ringing ears.
"I can't reach you so you gotta do it on your own.
Then get to them!  Gage! Do you hear me? Take
a shot from the O2 now. That's an order!"

Some deep instinct made the thousands  
of Johnny's firefighter and paramedic training hours
kick in. He reached for the resuscitator mask
dangling in front of him and took one.

Instantly clarity flooded back.  Johnny blinked
up into the sun. "Cap?"

"Get to Bobby. He's cyanotic, Gage."
Hank commanded from the sunlit crack above Gage.

Gage swam over to the limp boy and worked him
on the mask until the teen began to actively cough and
moan once more. Kelsey only need a boost, she
had never quit breathing.

Johnny sucked in two fresh breaths for himself
as he swam back the short distance over to Roy
and set the dripping mask over his face. "Nap time's
over, Pal. Wake up.." And he thumbed several
shots of oxygen into Roy's lungs.

DeSoto immediately reawakened and shoved
the mask away, thrashing his limbs in the water
as consciousness rapidly returned to him.

Johnny ducked. "Hey, watch what you're doing..!
I'm right here. You're fine now. Here.. Do this yourself
then.. Cap's gonna let us know when they're gonna
blow the hatch real soon.."

"T-The victims?" Roy shook his head to clear
out fogginess.

"They're fine. Keep sharing the wealth.
I'm next after Bobby and Kelsey.." Johnny said
twitching shivery gimme fingers at his partner
and the mask to get him to pass it around fairly.

Roy was clear headed enough to realize
an odd thing in that second voiced name. "Kelsey?
Johnny, how did you find out our female victim's
name? She didn't have any ID on her and
she's never been awake enough to tell us."

"Imagine that.." Johnny deflected. "How's
your breathing now?"

"Fine if I'm talking to you. Don't evade the issue.
Why am I getting chills from the sound of your
voice right now? What aren't you telling me?"
DeSoto demanded.

Johnny took his turn off the spare O2
and fell uncharacteristically silent while he
monitored both the girl and the teen's pulses
in turn. For two passes of the O2,Gage didn't
say anything. Then he asked one simple
question.  "Do you remember my best friend
Drew the highway patrol officer?"

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Roy's face paled from more than the cold. There
wasn't any way he could not remember that
man's death and the radio transmission that failed
to arrive from Rampart with life saving treatment.

DeSoto simply met Johnny's eyes and nodded
as his fingers reassessed the placement of the
airway resting in Kelsey's throat and felt for
the distension growing in her stomach. It wasn't
bad enough to effect his ventilations on her.

Johnny's face grew old as he unloaded his emotional
burden to his partner. Johnny's worry lines only became
worse for the telling. "Well, this is Drew's wife, Roy,
lying right here. And I don't know where her five year
old daughter is. I hope to G*d she isn't in that crushed
van down there. Cause if she is, she's dead."

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From : "rosafleehart" <>
Subject :  [EmergencyTheaterLive] The Promise..
Date : Mon, 29 Sep 2003 17:23:57 -0000

Roy said. "Why didn't you tell me before when you
first knew it  was her?"

"I thought I could handle it, Roy ok?" Johnny replied.

"Junior, sometimes..... I just  wish you would let me in on
things more." he said uncharacteristically defensive.

Gage countered, without thinking. "Look. I'm sorry, Roy, ok?"

Suddenly, Roy started to have a little trouble breathing and
then Johnny knew something was wrong. "Hey you ok, Pally?"
he asked, grabbing a hold of his jacket sleeve to get his

Roy coughed. "I'll be fine.  Must have swallowed the water
when the tank fell. " he replied. "Right now we've got
other things to be concerned with. How's the boy?"

Johnny answered. "He's holding his own right now. "

Roy tried hiding the fact, from Johnny, that his breathing
was starting to get worse. :: I don't want to add a further
burden to my partner's already high stress level.:: he
thought to himself. So he tried to handle it. ::I know
there isn't  much that can be done until we're top
side anyway.:: He just hoped it would wait before
getting any worse.

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After nearly two hours, the rescuers finally broke
through to them.

The girl, Kelsey,  was handed out first and a second
paramedic crew took her over.

Then the boy, Bobby, was handed out and another
medic team took over his care while the rescuers got
Roy and Johnny out of the collapsed tank.

Just as Johnny was hoisted up, Roy got real
bad. Quickly.  ::I can't breathe! Hardly at all now.::
DeSoto panicked.

Just as Johnny looked down, Roy lost consciousness
and started to sink into the contaminated water.

Johnny let go of the rescuers' rope and dove in after
his partner.  He grabbed him by the shirt collar and
pulled him to the surface as quickly as possible.

They pulled him out.
Then Johnny was, too, right behind him.

The other medics were busy so Johnny had to treat his
partner on his own.

Roy was out cold and not breathing and that made Johnny go
into instant paramedic mode. He quickly got in an intubation
on 6 liters of 02 which got Roy breathing again. Then he
got in an I.V. with Ringers using the open treatment privileges
that had been given to them from the beginning by Brackett.

He took vitals and saw that Roy was doing better.
Johnny contacted base and Brackett took it.
"Rescue 51 to base. How do you read?"

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Kel replied, "I read you loud and clear, 51. Go
ahead with your transmission."

"We have a 34 year old male. He lost consciousness
while trapped in a collapsed water tower. He stopped
breathing. He has been intubated and is NOW breathing.
We have him on an I.V. with Ringers wide open. He is still
unconscious. Vitals are:  B.P. 100/85, pulse is thready.
Respirations are 30 and his lungs are congested. Also
he has had some prior congestion due to water lung. "
Gage said over the biophone.

"51, keep him intubated. Administer 30 milligrams of
Talwin and transport a.s.a.p." Brackett ordered.

Johnny answered. "Ten four.  Talwin. 30 milligrams and
transport as soon as possible. We are ten minutes
from your location. Also be advised, we have a hazmat
situation in effect. "

"Ten four and in transit, get me a new set of vitals."
Brackett said. "We'll take precautions here for you and
your patient."

Gage nodded. "Ten four. 51 out."

Gage looked to Cap. "Cap, we need an ambulance in
here now. "

"You got it, Johnny. " Hank answered and announced
over the radio. "Battalion 14, This is HT 51. We need an
ambulance by me. We have a code I ready for emergency

"Ten four, HT 51. Ambulance is on the way in to you now. "

"Ten four."

Johnny looked up. "Cap, I'm going in with Roy. "
he said, not beating around the bush, challenging.

To Gage's relief, Hank didn't bat an eye.
"O.K., I'll see that the squad gets to the hospital."

"Thanks." Gage replied.

They loaded Roy up and Johnny got in with him.

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Gage was in both partner and medic mode. He got a
new set of vitals and relayed them to Rampart using his
radio.  "Rampart, this is squad 51."

"Go ahead, 51. " Kel acknowledged, toggling
a switch.

Johnny shouted over the roaring sirens.
"New vitals are :  B.P. is 90/65. His pulse
continues to be thready and weak.
Breathing's at 26."

Kel frowned. "51, what is your ETA?"

Johnny answered. "We are three minutes out."

Dr. Brackett nodded. "Send me a strip."

"Ten four. This will be lead two." Johnny said quickly.

At the same moment, both Brackett and Johnny saw
the same thing. Johnny reacted as a medic. He told the
ambulance to pull over just as Brackett yelled over the
radio. "51! We read V-fib. Defibrillate 400 watt
seconds now!"

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"Ten four." Johnny defibrillated Roy the first time.

There was no change.

On the second, still no change.

Johnny said as he went for a third time."Come on, Pally.
Don't do this to me. Come on." he gasped.  "D*mn it, Roy."

Finally Roy converted to sinus rhythm and his heart beat
normally again. Johnny reported on the radio. "Converted!
Times three. He's in sinus rhythm." he sighed.

"Ten four, 51 bring him on in." Kel grinned.

"Ten four, " Johnny answered. "OK. Let's go."
Gage said to the ambulance driver by smacking
the partition between them.


As the ambulance arrived, Brackett and Dixie met it
at the doors. They were shocked. They didn't know it
was Roy down.  The tension was over.

But then Johnny hit the floor suddenly in a blackout.

"I'll take Johnny..." Joe Early said quickly kneeling
beside Gage to check  his pulse.

"And I'll take Roy..." Brackett replied, grabbing hold
of the blond paramedic's gurney with two orderlies.

Soon, they were both put into treatment rooms.

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After a few days, Johnny was released and he
went to Roy's bedside. He hadn't regained
consciousness  yet.

::It's been six days.:: Gage thought morosely.
Johnny was worried.

He said to Roy."O.K., Roy. It's time to wake up.
Now everyone is worried about  you, Pally. So
come on." he said urgently. "Wake up for
old Johnny, huh, Pally?"

All through that night,  Johnny stayed at Roy's side,
refusing to leave.

Joanne had gone home to rest at Johnny's insistence.

As the day broke,  Johnny got up to stretch.
He had been holding Roy's hand all night long. ::And I've
been doing a lot of praying.:: he thought aloud, for his friend.

He turned suddenly when he heard a whisper of a voice say.
"You look terrible, Junior."

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Johnny leaned eagerly over Roy as he rang the room call
button. "Hey, Pally.  How are you feeling?"

Roy grinned slowly. "Weak. Tired."

Gage smiled quietly, "Yeah, I'd say so.  You gave us a
h*ll of a scare there, buddy."

Roy studied his sheets. "Sorry."

"Welllll....." Johnny teased. "That's ok. Just
don't let it happen again, ok?"

Roy was checked and it was found that he truly
WAS going to be o.k.

DeSoto finally talked Johnny into going home and
getting some rest.

Roy was released three weeks later from the hospital.

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A month later, he was cleared to return to duty.

Johnny had put a welcome back party together and they
were all enjoying it, when the tones went off .

As they climbed into the squad,  Johnny said. "Nice to
have you back, Pally."

"It's nice to BE back,  Junior."

Johnny had missed that nick name over the time Roy
had been gone. "Roy, I  hope I never see you come that
close to being lost again." he insisted. But just
as fast, he put on a wry grin. "But then again, I most
probably will 'cause that's the job we both have."
he added with exasperation.

Roy agreed, nodding, as he drove.
"We HAVE devoted our lives to saving others as
ff/pm's." he said in apology.

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From :"patti keiper" <>  
Subject : Second Thoughts..  
Date :  Wed, 01 Oct 2003 12:08:05 +0000  
Gage made a face as he peered at
the address on the scrap of paper
he had gotten from Cap as they had
taken off on their run. "Yeah,.. but
that doesn't mean I have to like the
fact that the people around me are
continually at risk all the time.." he
said with some real heat.

That surprised DeSoto and he glanced
at Gage's face to be sure he saw the
sharp anger mirroring there that had tinged
Johnny voice.  Roy bit down the joke
that he had rising and stifled a smile.
"You know we have a pact not to die
in front of one another if we can possibly
help it. Last month didn't count. The tower
cheated when it gave no warning before
dunking us into that chemical bath.
Man, that hurt. My p*ss's still glowing
at night." he complained.

Roy's planned crudeness worked.

It was Johnny's turn to glance over
and a shadow of a crooked grin toyed with
his face, but only for a moment. He didn't
feel like explaining his real feelings on
the discussion and once again, a
vulnerability that was newly born in his
eyes, stilled his lips into silence.

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Roy concentrated half on the road, the
rest on Johnny. "Hey,....
We can talk about it you know.."
he offered in a quick toothy smile.
"If we don't, Cap's bound to throw
us all into a session with the
CISM counselors. Don't be upset
that you can't be there all the time
to save the day like you'd rather do."

Johnny flared. "I don't need any critical
incident stress management lackies crawling
around my head! I'd rather have had it
not to have happened at ALL." he snarled
once again. And the roaring siren over
their ears seemed to agree with him

The ghost of a grin on Roy seeped away
and he didn't say much of anything for
a full minute, only watching the directions
Johnny quietly indicated to him, showing them the
way to their current rescue's location. But then
DeSoto said. "Look at the bright side. I may
be a lot poorer financially now for missing
out on so much work but I've gotten in some
real quality time with Joanne and the kids.
Our third's really coming along. I felt
the baby kick real hard last night..."

That was the wrong thing to say. Gage
nearly levitated out of his seat and he
angrily adjusted his loose helmet strap a
little more snuggly under his chin. "Good.
I'm happy for you.. Your family's safe and
sound and everything's looking real nice
and rosy for ya.." he said, saluting smartly
in sarcasm.

Roy's mouth slacked open and he
gripped the steering wheel a little tighter
even as his jaw slid sideways in puzzlement.
"Johnny, what's the matter? Wh- What's going
on with you? I don't think I've ever seen you
with so many ants in your pants before.."

Johnny huffed and thunked an elbow out the
squad's windy window to serve as a prop for
his scowling face.

Roy then figured it out.. "It's Kelsey Richards.
Isn't it..?" The name elicted a bright spot of pain  
that Roy saw lance sharply across Johnny's
features. ::Bingo...::

"What about her?" Johnny asked defensively.

Roy stuck out a pouting frown. "Well,'s
she doing? I heard she got home from the hospital
ahead of me by five d--"

"She's fine.."  Gage interrupted. "Kelsey's just fine.
Somehow, she took no heart or lung damage from
the freon like you had happen to you. She's home
and everything's good and she calls me every night
to help her get over the fact that her kid Amber didn't
make it like she d--" his voice broke off, getting
uncharacteristically choked up and muffled.

Now Roy understood everything plainly. "You're
hung up really bad about this, aren't you?" he said
softly. "I had almost forgotten about what you told
me that day. About the five year old fatality you thought
was in the van..  Was she?"

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Johnny shook his head minutely in the negative.
"Kelsey's daughter died outside the tower. Another
company found her under the pile of freon tanks. Remember
the ones we heard hissing when we first got that dizzy
construction worker out?"

DeSoto nodded and Johnny rubbed his face.

"Then there wasn't anything you could've done to
have prevented that now, could you?" Roy doctored.

Gage sighed and a tear ran a trail down the side
of cheek that Roy couldn't see even as his
face ironed up. "It wasn't my best friend's daughter
that's been in my every waking thought since I found
out that you were gonna make it." he said his tone
trembling slightly as his anger evaporated into grief.
"There was someone else down there that I should
have known on the spot.  A victim whom I
should have tried a little harder to save.."

Roy turned another corner his partner pointed out
to him and the tires of the squad squealed. "I
don't understand, Johnny. Explain it to me.
You told me weeks ago that those teens didn't have
a chance except for Bobby the driver because
the roof had caved in and pushed them all under
the water."

Johnny's lips flattened into a thin line..
"I know. I know.. Look, would you stop prying
and let me just think a minute here!" he
snapped. "I got a lot to tell you so just---"

Just like that,..Johnny returned to a horrific
memory that had been relayed to him by Stoker
the same day he had awakened in the  
shared hospital room with Roy at Rampart.

Johnny still remembered how chilled he
felt under the blankets when he heard.....

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......"You should have seen him, Johnny. He left
the hospital on one of the ambulances to get
to the scene the moment his instincts screamed
at him. He knew, Johnny.. He knew beyond the
shadow of a doubt that she had been there in
the van.."..

The hospital gowned Gage tried to steady the
ice glass and straw that Mike Stoker had been
helping him sip without drinking from it. "What
the h*ll are you talking about, Mike? Who
knew whom in the van?  My friend Drew's dead.
And there was no one else around who knew Kelsey
and her little girl, Amber, enough to worry about

"It's Doctor Morton, Gage. We found him crying
over his sister's stokes after he had found her  
black tagged in the triage morgue tent along
with the other teens who died in the van with

Johnny dropped his water glass...

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"Oh my G*d. I'm s- sorry, Johnny.. I- I didn't know.."
DeSoto said as he sped the final few blocks
towards their destination. "I saw all
the blood in the water with us.. But I didn't
know you had found someone else in that
van besides Bobby who was still salvagable.."

Gage made a little noise of pain.
" I guessed I freaked out Roy.. She WAS
there. Right there in my arms.. And I just dropped her
when I saw her facial and cranial injuries without
even checking to see if she was still alive..."

"You were in shock, Johnny. We both were.
A tower had just fallen on you and freon gas
was doing its best to suffocate us all, too."

"We're talking about not trying harder with
Morton's SISTER,  Roy..." Johnny insisted in high
agony. "I'm negligent! I'm most likely gonna be one
of the clear ones to blame for leaving her to die
down there..."

"You don't know that." Roy said equally
loud as he drove. "You know what they
tell us whenever we find a victim with obvious
gray brain matter showing."

"You don't have to tell me.." Johnny said

"Well, I'm going to. In that medical situation,
it's to be taken as an obvious sign of death
from the classic signs list right along side
rigor mortis and dependent lividity.."

"Roy, I could have done something MORE.
I could have started breathing for her..."

"With crushing mouth and nose injuries?
How?" Roy challenged.


"Even if you managed to get air into
her lungs. There was no way you EVER
could have started c.p.r effectively enough.
You were treading water.."

"Stop it!" Gage said. "Just shut up Roy.
You don't know what you're talking about.."

"Oh  yes I do. I'm the one who taught you
everything you know as a paramedic,
remember?" DeSoto insisted, clenching
his hands on the wheel he said glaring
at his despondent partner.

"Look out!!" Gage shouted.

Roy barely swerved in time to avoid getting
hit by a motorist who hadn't heard their
sirens at a four way stop sign.

DeSoto thunked over the curb onto grass
and their front tire ripped over a support stake
at  the foot of a corner telephone wire.
It immediately blew out and halted the squad
cold, throwing both paramedics foward, hard.

Roy and Johnny caught themselves on the
dashboard as best as they could.

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"You ok?" DeSoto gasped.

"Yeah, I was just about to ask you the same thing.."
Johnny admitted, still gripping window frame
and roof strut.

Both men started to shake with reaction
from their near miss and a minute later,
it took both of them to steady the radio
mike as Roy thumbed it and said, "L.A. This
is squad 51."

##Go ahead, 51.##

"L.A. We've been disabled mechanically
avoiding a vehicular collision. We'll be
unable to respond to our current rescue call.
We are uninjured." he added quickly to
keep Cap and the rest of the gang possibly
listening on the office scanner, reassured.

##10 - 4, 51. Do you need roadside assistance?##

"Negative. My partner and I can handle it."

##Copy....Squad 51, cancelled.  
*Beep. beep. beep.*
Squad 8, in place of Squad 51. Possible
heart attack. 309 Hunter's Place and Jackson
Blvd..  309 Hunter's...##

Roy and Johnny tuned out the rest of the
radio transmission as they both slid out
of the squad to sit on their truck's back
landing board to steady their nerves
and bodies while they took off their helmets.

Johnny was trembling violently. "I can't
take any more surprises today, Roy.
Even ones as fun as your welcome back
party. My nerves are more than shot."

"I noticed.." Roy said without smiling.

Johnny buried his head into his hands
and wiped away the salty wetness
streaming there from his eyes and just
rested for a few moments.

Roy watched his face in steady concern.
"Wanna eat something? Your blood sugar's
gotta be low. I know mine is after that."

"Yeah, I'll eat. But where? I don't know
this neighborhood beyond what I saw on
the wall map to get to where we had
to go for this call." Gage admitted.

"How about the cafeteria at Rampart..?"

Johnny startled and stopped rubbing his
face. "Uh,...Dixie said Morton's working today
and I don't think I wanna run into HIM just yet.
I was only lucky that I never saw him all those
times Joanne and I came to see you when
you were still in your chemically induced

"We gotta go there to resupply sometime.
Most likely as soon as after our next call." Roy said
getting up to check the condition of the squad
beyond its shredded tire.

"I know.. I know. But I still have a lot of thinking
to do.."

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"Do you?" Roy asked seriously. "I just told you
how it was for Morton's sister.  And you. Don't
you trust my judgement that there wasn't
really anything that you could've done for her?"

"I trust ya. I trust ya.. I just don't know if I can trust
myself anymore." Johnny said gloomily, tossing
both his helmet and Roy's into the passenger seat
while he broke out the squad's jack, wrench and
spare tire from inside the stokes department.
"Cause I can't really keep the promises I make.
I promised Drew that I'd look after his
wife and little girl and I didn't."

"That's a lie.. You kept Kelsey alive."

"No, YOU did. I had my hands full with
Bobby and...." he rubbed his mouth with
guilt. "...and with you.."

"I was dyspneic due to fumes. Kelsey
was already safely airway secured. You had
a right to worry about me first. I was your
paramedic priority then, only one behind Bobby."

"No you weren't. She was unconscious."

"So was I ...later on. Quit hashing semantics.
Don't deny how things happened because I
know how they went because Cap told me
everything when he came to visit me at Rampart."

That shut Johnny up and Roy saw a wrinkle on
Gage's forehead ease.  But Johnny's eyes stayed
gray and suddenly full with conviction.
"I'll let you know this, Roy. I promise that I'm never
gonna let you or anyone else I know down ever
again if I can help it."

"That's the spirit. A promise is good for the soul.."

"That's only if a promise can be kept, Roy." Johnny
countered. "It's its own double edged sword sometimes."

"Like you learned with Kelsey and Amber?" DeSoto
said gently.

Johnny stopped hauling away on the tire lugs where
he knelt in the grass. "Yeah.." he said bitterly. "Like

"Well, you made no such promise to Dr. Morton,
my friend. So stop blaming yourself for something
you couldn't have changed." DeSoto interjected
quickly. "It was somebody else who brought
that tower down and caused the accident. Not
you. You were just a victim that time."

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 The Promise
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