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He wanted solitude. But Chet Kelly
wasn't about to let his running escape succeed.
He gingerly peeked around the skewed door's
window and knocked, still outside the lab.

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Jamie MacPherson and Steve Taylor were
oblivious, deep in their work, and neither
heard the two men enter in,  nor talk.

Johnny Gage didn't even look up.
"Leave me alone, Kelly. I'm busy.."

Chet's face split into an angry frown
and he marched right on in, his earlier
respectful shyness evaporating.
"Busy doing what, Johnny? Feeling
sorry for yourself? That rod didn't
skewer you anywhere near your head,
so stop acting like one has. Man,
even you've told me a million times never to
talk negative around unconscious
victims, so why'd do it in front of Marco?"

"Chet, you don't know what you're talking
about so why don't you just shut--"
Johnny said sarcastically.

"Now wait just a doggoned minute
here. A lot of people around this station are
expecting the core crew to hold it all together
man. Haven't you realized what's been going
and evolving among us for the past three years?  
The station can't work without you paramedics
being strong in situations, so just what are
we supposed to do when you aren't?"  
Chet didn't wait for Gage to reply.
"The answer is, you don't fall into that trap
in the first place."

Johnny didn't reply to Chet at all. He just
continued to play with the toy ball one
of the kids had left behind on a dinner plate
and tried to ignore Kelly to the best of
his abilities.

Kelly went on, "Man, don't you know anything?"

Gage didn't rise to Kelly's bait.

Chet was undaunted.
"Ok. All right.. You don't have to say anything
but you're gonna listen to me. ..I'm gonna
let you in on a little secret Gage, a big one.
One that I've never ever told anyone.."

Johnny just tilted his head, not liking his
lecture at all and he avoided all eye contact
with Chester B.

"I look up to you paramedics more than you
can ever possibly know, Gage."

That made Gage glance up in surprise.

"It's true..." Chet said insistently. "I've
even dreamed of one of these times going
into the paramedic program so I can make
a difference out there, too, man.
Like you and Roy do..."

"Come off it, Chet. This is just some dumb
speech you're giving me to cheer--"

"No, listen. I'm very serious.." Chet said
slowly, without blinking, eye to eye with

Johnny was amazed that Chet's stare
didn't waver nor show any hint of
untruth, his mouth flopped open.

Chet didn't give him time to speak.
"I- I've been watching how you guys
work for years, and it just sickened me
when you folded like a stack of cards just
now, with Marco..on professionalism."  
Chet had been spinning a coffee spoon
around aimlessly and it spun off the table
top to land on the linoleum with a loud crash..

Bonnie, near a seated place by the
two bats' confinement, barked, sounding
as if she thought someone was at the
side station door.

Her mistake made both Johnny and
Chet break out of their mutual funks
and the ironic humor of Bonnie's
innocent reaction, made the two
firemen, finally, laugh hard together,
each breaking up into paroxyms of
uncontrollable mirth.

Johnny spoke, when he recovered
use of his stomach muscles again.
"B-Bet you won't last a week
in the paramedic program.."

Chet spat on his hand.
"Shake on it.. A month's
dish detail.."

Johnny grinned a cockeyed
smile and spat likewise in jest
and they sealed their bet. Then
Johnny's face turned cat with the
canary and he said, "Better count
on buying the rubber gloves, Chet.
Cause you just lost that bet. Brice
is teaching all the principle courses
this year, in the signup program and
he's known for a heavy work load,
hard on study.."  

"He is??" Chet cried out, complaining.
"Aww, man..."

"Whaa..." Johnny said, spreading his
hands wide. "Afraid of a little obstacle?"

"Brice isn't a tiny obstacle Johnny, and
you know it.. The whole station does.!"

"Shhh.." Gage jabbed teasely. "He can
hear you..." he said, mocking the very
reason Chet came in to dress down
Johnny to begin with.  Then he sheepishly
admitted. "Thanks for yelling at me about
Marco. I was outta line talking like that.
It's just so,....d*mned frustrating seeing
him dying in pieces.."

Amazingly, one of the microscope lit
backs turned around on a swiveled chair.
It was Jamie. "No one's dying around here
gentlemen, at least, among the humans
anyway..." and her eyes made Chet
and Johnny notice the cage holding
the wounded bat. Its head was slowing
sinking into the clear impossibly limp
rictor of lifelessness.

And even Bonnie knew it, she whined
and scampered away from the cage in
fear at the new lack of warm scent rising

It was then Kelly and Gage noticed
that Jamie's face was glinting with wetness
in the dim lighting.

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Both firemen rose to be by her instantly.
"What is it?" Johnny asked.

"Are you ok, Dr. MacPherson?" Chet
asked too. "Don't be upset the bat died.
W-We still have the one.. Won't she be

"I'm fine.." Jamie sobbed. "I always cry
on occasions like this..." and her tears
turned to a small smile of tired triumph
and she held up a small pressure syringe
of spun lactate proteins. Her grin brightened
hopeful, by leaps.
    "We did it..!! Mr. Gage, Quickly.
Go give this to one of the other paramedics
for Marco. It'll take two hands to inject
the serum into his endotrach tube."

Chet and Johnny nearly leaped across the
lab table to grab the tiny vile of hope.
They both stopped on a dime when
their jostling almost upset the grip
Jamie had on it. Johnny and Chet both
broke into a "no, after you" routine,...until ..

Dr. Taylor sighed and flipped a coin into
the air.., "Heads for the curly haired
fireman, Tails for you.."

Heads won.

Chet held the tiny syringe cupped
in his hands as if it were a fragile egg
and he hastened, with care, back
out to the others. His body was careful,
but his voice was not.. "Hey Marcoo!!
Hang in there pal... Guess what we
got done cooking here....!!!!"

Both firemen's shadows in the gloom,
eagerly left the room.

Jamie's head sank onto the countertop
where she and Steve had been working,
and just sobbed.

Dr. Steven Taylor smiled and handed her
a kleenix from his pocket. "Knew you
were going to do that again. D*mnest
thing I ever saw. Tears of happiness,
heh. Who'd figure..?"


Roy sat over Marco's bed, trembling.
In his fingers, lay the precious serum shot.

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"Don't even breathe..." Kelly said to him.
Then he caught himself. "Oh, Marco, I didn't
say that about YOU.. so keep trying man..
I wanna see that chest rise on its own
half an hour after this cure's in you.." he
said close to Lopez's ear. Then he whispered.
"Even Johnny's rootin for you. He almost
started crying over you in the kitchen... "
"Remember to tease him a bit about it when
you snap out of it.. Shhhh." he said low
enough so no one else heard.

Stoker got out of Roy's way by removing
the ambu bag after giving Marco an O2 flood
worth of vents.  

Roy began to titrate the serum's amber
liquid into Marco's airway.

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