For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom

DISCLAIMER: "Emergency!" and its characters © Mark VII Productions, Inc. and Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

The poems and songs used in this story do not belong to me. I have indicated the singer/writer of each one.

No infringement of any copyrights or trademarks is intended or should be inferred. This is a work of fiction, and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. This story is only written for entertainment. No financial gain is being realized from it. The story, itself, is the property of the author. Please ask before archiving elsewhere and/or using characters created by the author.

I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.


Mid-December, 1981


It was a week before Christmas and Nicole and Johnny were babysitting for the DeSotos so they could have a night out. They had left their kids with Mrs. Martin, a lady from Nicole’s old apartment building who was far away from her grandchildren and missed them terribly. Johnny and Nicole took Chris and Jenny shopping for their parents’ Christmas presents and to spend a little time with just the two kids. They had one more store to go into before they were done for the evening.

Just before they could go into the store, Chris ran into some of the older kids from his middle school. He was trying to be one of the “cool” crowd, so he was hoping to become friends with these guys. They were the wrong crowd to be running with and his parents had forbid him to even talk to these kids.

When the three boys, Bill, Mark and Philip asked if he could “hang” with them, he asked Johnny if he could go. His irritation showed when Jennifer said that their parents wouldn’t like it because these guys were always getting into trouble at school. Nicole looked at Chris. “Is that true, Chris?”

“They don’t even know these guys. They are the cool kids and I am going to be their friend. I am going with them.” Chris started walking away.

“No, you aren’t, Chris.” Johnny grabbed Chris’ arm.

“You are not my parents. You are not my Aunt and Uncle—you aren’t even family so you can’t tell me what to do. I am going with them and you can’t stop me.” He pulled away from Johnny and the four boys started running through the mall. It was at the entrance that they ran into Bill’s older cousin, Wayne. Wayne led the group out of the mall. What Chris didn’t know was that Wayne and Bill were both carrying guns.

Johnny had taken off after the group with Nicole and Jennifer close on his heels. The group of boys had made it out of the mall and over to the 7-11 that was at the north end of the mall by the time Johnny, Nicole and Jennifer came out of the mall. Johnny yelled Chris’ name. He knew Chris heard him because he looked their way, but he ignored them and kept going. Johnny was getting a bad feeling about what was going on. He took off running across the parking lot.

Something made him stop as he got to the door. He peeked in and saw Wayne holding a gun on the clerk, demanding all the money. Bill and another kid had Chris by the arms and wouldn’t let him go. Seeing a pay phone near the door, Johnny called the police and told them what was going on. Then he went back to his vigil at the door. He was trying to figure out a way to get Chris away from the group and find out what the kid was doing.

There had been a drug bust a block away from the store. When the call came, there were three cars that were free since the bust was complete. They immediately headed towards the store. When Wayne and Bill heard the sirens, they panicked. Wayne turned the gun on Chris and Johnny charged through the front door. Nicole and Jennifer followed.

Johnny stopped about five feet from the door. “What’s going on?” He tried to make it seem like they just walked in and didn’t see the gun.

“Get over here—all of you.” Wayne turned the gun on Johnny. Johnny didn’t know that Nicole and Jennifer had followed him in and his heart leapt to his throat when he realized they were included in the group.

“Hey, what’s going on? We just came in to get some soft drinks. Chris, I know you still have 10 or 15 minutes left before you were suppose to meet us, but why don’t you come with us now. Nicole isn’t feeling very well and I’d like to get her home.” Johnny knew that Wayne wasn’t going to let them go, but he thought he would give it a try. As he had looked at Bill and back at Wayne, he realized they were both high on drugs. Now he was praying that they would all just get out of there alive. He thought they were going to be ok when Bill and Wayne started backing towards the door.

“No one is going anywhere. Bill, come on, let’s get out of here.” Wayne was getting frustrated and just wanted to get out of there. It was at that moment that the police cars showed up with sirens blaring. Bill pulled out another gun and both men motioned the other people in the store behind some shelves so the police would not see any of them. Johnny held Nicole and Jennifer tight and Chris made his way over to them.

Wayne thought he saw something moving outside so he started shooting at the police, which, of course, brought gunfire from the police. Bill joined the melee and soon there were bullets flying all around. Wayne and Bill had each pulled out another gun making a total of four between them. Looking at the other boys they had brought in with them, they threw two of them to Mark and Philip who soon joined the fracas. Johnny was trying to come up with a plan to get them all out of there.

“Hey, Chris, want to come and have some fun.” The drugs Bill had taken gave him extra courage. He was motioning for Chris to come and take his gun and join the group.

“NO, I don’t. This is not fun. Someone is going to get hurt or killed.” Chris now understood why his parents didn’t want him associating with this group and he was sorry he had disobeyed Johnny. He was really feeling bad about what he had said to Johnny and Nicole.

“Oh come on, Chris.” With that Bill pulled Chris to his feet.

Johnny jumped up to pull Chris back as Wayne turned his gun on Jennifer. Without thinking, Nicole laid over Jennifer to protect her with her back to Wayne. Johnny stepped in front of Chris and at that moment everything broke loose. Nicole felt the pain in her lower back and Johnny felt the pain in his upper left shoulder. But they were both concerned with keeping Chris and Jennifer safe.

It was only 30 seconds later that Vince stood over the dead bodies of Wayne and Bill Stevens. Mark and Philip were in custody. Paramedics from Squads 16 and 41 had been called in as soon as the police arrived and were now checking out the group in the store.

Chris had been hit in the back of his right shoulder by a falling shelf. Jennifer had been hit by some flying glass and had cuts on her arms and face. Mark and Philip had been cut by flying glass, too.

Captains Dwyer and Brice came in behind their paramedics. Both men were surprised to see one of their own involved in the situation.

As the paramedics came in the door, they were surprised to see Johnny already checking to see how everyone was. “What do you have for us, Gage?”

Johnny went down the list of injuries for the four kids. He didn’t think about his shoulder and hadn’t seen the blood on Nicole’s back.

“How about you, two? You have some blood on your shoulder and Nicole has some on her back.” Dwyer looked over at the two adults.

“It’s probably from one of the kids. Let’s just get these guys into Rampart. We’ll get checked out there.” Johnny was worried about how Roy and Joanne were going to take this. “Vince, Roy and Joanne should be home by now. Will you call them and tell them to meet us at Rampart?”

Vince nodded as Nicole and Johnny went with Chris and Jennifer in the ambulances to Rampart.


Roy and Joanne were both worried as they headed into Rampart’s ER. Dixie met them at the counter and led them into treatment room 3 where they had placed both kids since ER was very busy.

Roy rushed in and saw both his kids with Johnny and Nicole standing near them. “What happened?”

Vince stepped up and told them what had happened. He didn’t leave out the part that Mark and Philip were trying to put blame on Chris, too, since he was with them when they went into the store to rob it.

“What do you mean Chris was with them?” Roy looked at Johnny with eyes full of anger.

“According to the clerk, Chris was with the group when they entered the store.” Vince didn’t realize what was going on.

“You let him go with them. He was supposed to be with both of you—not those kids. And we called you family. This is your fault. Well, you sure didn’t care enough about our kids to protect them did you?” Roy didn’t see that Nicole’s face was whiter than a sheet or that Johnny’s shirt was red with his own blood. “If that is the way you are going to take care of our kids, I never want you near them again. Now get out of here.”

Johnny looked at Roy and then at Joanne with pain in his eyes. Joanne didn’t seem as angry as Roy, but he saw something he couldn’t quite figure out. Nodding, he put his arm around Nicole and walked out of the room with Dixie right behind them.

“He’s just scared, Johnny. He didn’t mean any of it.” Dixie then noticed the blood on Nicole’s back. She saw the blood on Johnny’s shirt when Johnny turned around to answer her.

“Yes, he did, Dixie. And every word of it is true.” Johnny turned back around and the Gages continued their trip down the hall.

“Johnny, you and Nicole are both hurt. Let me get someone to look at you.” Dixie was growing concerned at the amount of blood she saw.

“No, it’s probably just some cuts from the glass. We’ll take care of them at home. We’ll be fine. Don’t waste anyone’s time here to look at us. We aren’t worth it. We are refusing treatment.” Johnny never turned around, but kept right on walking.


Back in the treatment room Jennifer couldn’t help the tears that ran down her cheeks. It wasn’t because of the cuts and stitches she had received. She was mad at her mother and father. “Why did you send Aunt Nicole and Uncle Johnny away?” She wouldn’t let either her mother or her father even touch her let alone hug her.

“Because they don’t really care about you.” Roy knew he was saying something he might regret later, but he couldn’t stop himself.

“Yes, they do Dad.” Chris knew this was his fault and he had just caused two very special people a lot of pain. He pushed his parents away, too.

“No, they don’t. If they did, they never would have let you go with those guys in the first place.” Roy was getting angrier. How could his kids stick up for Johnny and Nicole after what they had put them through?

“They didn’t let me go with them. Uncle Johnny told me I couldn’t and even tried to stop me. I told them that they weren’t my parents. I told them they really weren’t my Aunt and Uncle and that they weren’t even family so they couldn’t tell me what to do. Then I said I was going to go with the guys and they couldn’t stop me. Then I ran away with Mark, Philip and Bill. We met Bill’s cousin Wayne at the door to the mall and things just happened so fast after that. I tried to go back to Uncle Johnny when I heard him call me just as we got to the door of the 7-11, but Mark and Philip grabbed me and pushed me into the store in front of them. I knew I had made a mistake and wanted to get out of there. I didn’t know what they were going to do or that they had guns until they pulled them on the clerk.” Chris was crying but it wasn’t because of the pain his dislocated shoulder had caused.

Roy was about to say something when Dwyer stuck his head in to check on the kids. “How are Jennifer and Chris?”

Roy took a deep breath and tried to keep his voice calm. “Chris had to have a dislocated shoulder reset. Jennifer has some cuts. There were a couple that needed stitches, but they will both be alright.”

“What about Johnny and Nicole? How are they?” Dwyer didn’t know that no one in the room knew that Johnny and Nicole had been injured. He had brought the squad in for his paramedics.

“What do you mean, Charlie?” Dr. Brackett looked at the Captain and then at Roy.

“He means that when Johnny and Nicole left here, they were both had blood on them. I asked if they were alright.” Dixie had walked back into the room in time to hear Dwyer’s question. She didn’t hear Chris’ confession. “Johnny said that it probably just some cuts from the glass and that they were both fine. He said they would take care of their injuries at home and not to waste anyone’s time here to look at them because they weren’t worth it. Then they refused treatment and left.”

“Why didn’t they say something? Why didn’t you try to stop them?” Roy was beginning to get concerned.

“Because you didn’t give them a chance to say anything and because they are blaming themselves for what happened tonight. I told them I would get someone to look at them and they just kept walking. I don’t think they wanted anyone here to check them out. They refused treatment and you know we can’t force someone to get treated.” Dixie looked Roy straight in the eyes.

“How did they get hurt?” Roy felt guilty as he realized that neither Johnny nor Nicole had said a word or tried to defend themselves and were probably feeling guilty about what had happened.

“When Bill pulled me up and pointed a gun at me, Uncle Johnny pulled me away and stepped between us. Then when Wayne pointed a gun at Jennifer, Aunt Nicole laid over Jennifer to keep her protected. It was then that the police came storming in and I heard two shots really close. I think they were shot—not cut by glass.” Chris was really feeling bad now. Johnny and Nicole were hurt, hadn’t gotten any help and were feeling guilty.

“Where are they now? How did they get here?” Roy knew he had to find their friends. He had a lot to apologize for. He realized that Johnny and Nicole had put their own lives in danger to protect his kids. And all he did was blamed them and tell them they didn’t care.

“They rode in with the kids in the ambulance.” Dwyer wasn’t sure what had happened in this room, but he did know that neither Johnny nor Nicole had looked very good at the scene and were probably not doing very good right now either. He knew that even though Johnny had said it was probably blood from one of the kids that it was really theirs and they were hurt. “They wouldn’t let us check them out at the scene. They just wanted to get Chris and Jennifer in here to make sure they were alright.”

“Then they should still be here. How are they going to get back to their car?” Roy ran out of the treatment room looking for the couple feeling even guiltier after listening to Dwyer’s account of what had transpired. Johnny and Nicole’s only concern had been focused on Jennifer and Chris and all Roy had done was tell them they really didn’t care about the kids.

As he ran past the ER desk Susan, the nurse on duty, called to him. “Where are you going so fast?”

“I’m looking for Johnny and Nicole. Have you seen them?” He knew they had to be around somewhere.

“Oh, they were picked up by a taxi a few minutes ago. They really didn’t look too good. Both of them were in a lot of pain and there was an awful lot of blood. Are they alright? Why didn’t they let one of the doctors look at them?”

“I hope they are alright.” Roy turned to head back to the treatment room and the group that waited for word. His face said it all as he entered the room. “They left a few minutes ago in a taxi.”

“Roy, let me take Joanne and the kids home. You take your car and head over to the mall where they left their car. Vince can you call headquarters and let them know to keep an eye out for them and that they need help?” Dixie took control of the situation.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea, Dix.” Roy was glad to be doing something.

Just before they all left the room, Jennifer’s quiet voice could be heard asking, “Daddy, Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nicole will be alright won’t they?”

Chris gasped. It was at that moment the full meaning of what his actions did that night hit him. “I not only put my self in danger, I put Uncle Johnny, Aunt Nicole, and Jenny in danger. Any one of us could have gotten killed.” Chris was crying harder than he had ever cried before. “And right now Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nicole may be seriously hurt.”

“Yes, Chris.” Dixie felt sorry for the 13-year boy who had just learned a very hard lesson of life.

“What is going to happen to me? Am I going to jail for being part of this?” Chris felt it was what he deserved.

“No, Chris, Mark and Philip finally told us they made you go—that you had nothing to do with it.” Vince felt sorry for him, too.

No one said a word as the group solemnly filed out of the room.

Five Days Before Christmas, 1981

It had been thirty-six hours and there was no sign of Johnny and Nicole. Even the kids had disappeared. No one knew how, but they had disappeared. Roy had gone to the mall to see if they had picked up their car, but it was still there. He then over to their house. Not getting a response to his knock and really beginning to worry about the extent of their injuries, he used his key and let himself into their house. They had not been home. Joanne and Roy kept an eye on the Gage ranch, but the Gages did not show up. There was no place left to look for them. The calls Joanne and Dixie had made to all the hospitals within a 50-mile radius came up empty.

Roy had taken the next shift off to help take care of his kids. But stations 14, 24 and 51 were supposed to meet today to plan the Christmas party they were jointly putting on for Rampart. They were to meet at station 51—it had been Johnny’s idea. On one hand Roy dreaded going to the meeting the next morning. What if Johnny wasn’t there? On the other hand Roy hoped that Johnny’s and Nicole’s injuries were just from glass like they said and that Johnny would be there. Then he could apologize for how he had treated the only brother he had ever had. If Johnny wasn’t there, Roy didn’t know what he was going to do and he really didn’t want to explain it to the others.

When Roy pulled into the parking lot, the sight of Johnny’s empty parking space tightened the knot in his stomach. Johnny always arrived earlier than his crew to make sure he was prepared for the day from the moment roll call began. But maybe he was just running late today. At least that was what Roy was hoping. He walked into the station wondering where Johnny and Nicole could have gone. Then he remembered something that Johnny had told them—that Nicole knew how to hide unless she wanted to be found. But where could they hide if they were hurt? He was thankful that he arrived early and was in the day room getting coffee before the others showed up. He knew he was going to have to face them sooner or later, but he was opting for later at this point.

Marco, Chet and Mike soon joined him for coffee. “Hey, Roy, where’s Johnny this morning?” Chet was surprised that Johnny wasn’t there yet. “Is he back to his old ways of being late again?”

Before Roy could answer, Chief Hank Stanley and Captain Charlie Dwyer entered the room. “Johnny called in sick today. Charlie will be filling in for him. Roy, I need to talk to you in Johnny’s office.” Chief Stanley needed to ask Roy about what was going on. Johnny had said something else and Hank needed to find out what he had meant.

“Are he and Nicole going to be alright, Roy?” Dwyer didn’t know about everything that transpired in that treatment room less than two days ago. He also didn’t know that the rest of the three crews that were now gathered in the dayroom had no idea what was going on.

Less than two days—it seemed like a lifetime. Roy jumped as he heard Hank’s voice and realized it was the third time he had called his name.

“Roy, what is Dwyer talking about?” Something was going on and Hank really needed to find out what.

“Did you talk to Johnny, Chief?” Roy was trying to avoid the inevitable for a little bit longer.

“Yeah, but he didn’t want to talk much. He said something else, but I would like an answer to Dwyer’s question as well as mine.”

“I don’t know if they are alright. I really pray that they are.” Roy then proceeded to tell the events of that night right down to what he had said to Johnny and Nicole and what Johnny had said to Dixie as they left.

“That explains it.” Hank was deep in thought.

“Explains what, Chief?” Chet was a little upset with Roy for how he treated Johnny and Nicole, but he also understood that Roy was scared for his kids that night.

“Johnny said he probably wouldn’t be back to work, because his resignation would take effect before he was well enough to come back to work. Then he said goodbye and hung up before I could ask him anything else. Then Chief McConikee came into my office with a letter from Johnny saying he was resigning from the department. Chief McConikee had just received it by messenger. He said would sit on it until we could find out what was going on.” Hank felt sorry for Roy. He knew how being a parent and the feelings you get when you are scared for one of your kids could make you act. But he was surprised that Roy had not even given them a chance to explain.

“Well, maybe we can find out what is going on with Johnny and Nicole when we talk with them.” Vince had entered the dayroom during the last part of Roy’s narrative. He had heard all of Hank’s remarks.

“Vince, what do you mean? Did you find them? How? Are they alright? Where are their kids?” Roy was on his feet when he saw Vince standing in the doorway.

“Yes, Roy, we found them. Since they are key witnesses in a case, hospitals have to give us information where they are even when they can’t give it to anyone who calls. I just said I was looking for them and found out they are at the Donaldson Memorial Clinic. The kids are staying with a Mrs. Martin, a lady that lives in Nicole’s old apartment building and who misses her grandchildren very much.” Vince was glad he could give this group some good news.

“Are they ok, Vince?” Roy knew that Vince had been in the treatment room when Roy had lost his temper. He knew what Roy was really asking.

“I haven’t talked to them yet, Roy. I wanted to come over and give you some good news before I went to see them. I’ll keep you informed, though, ok?” Vince knew that Roy was hurting and needed to know about his friends.

“Thanks, Vince.” Roy was torn as the klaxons sounded. “Station 51, Station 14, Station 24, Station 98, Station 18, Station 110, Battalion 14, Battalion 10, fire at Donaldson Memorial Clinic, 1251 Lakeside, 1-2-5-1 Lakeside, Cross Street Stevens. Time out 8:20 a.m.” All three crews took a deep breath as they heard the name of the clinic. Knowing Johnny and Nicole were there gave them a little extra burst of speed.

Hank acknowledged for all three crews as they ran for their respective vehicles. He and Roy handed the addresses to the drivers and watched as the six vehicles took off. Grabbing extra turnout gear Roy tossed it in the back seat next to Hank’s as the two men jumped into Hank’s vehicle and followed the fire trucks down the road. They all knew it was going to be a big one. Each man wondered what they would find when they arrived.

None of the men had seen the Donaldson Memorial Clinic and were surprised at the size of it. It was no wonder so many engines had been called out—the clinic ran for four blocks in all four directions and it looked like there were flames or smoke coming out of just about every window. Station 18 had been the first to arrive so Chief Stanley ran to their captain to get the details and take control of the situation. He had to call in a second and third alarm and just prayed they would be able to get it under control soon.

The whole time they were fighting the fire, everyone wondered where and how the Gages were. But duty called and they had to push all the questions aside.


Johnny and Nicole had “eaten” smoke when they were assisting in getting some of the elderly patients out of the hospital. Squad 18 had taken them to UCLA Medical Center. But Vince had been at the scene of the fire and had made it a point to find out where they were going to be taken so it wasn’t long after they were arrived that Vince showed up at the hospital.

Vince walked into the treatment room Johnny and Nicole were in. Johnny was surprised to see him since they had arranged for no one to find out where they were.

“Hi Vince. How did you find us?” Johnny sat up in his bed.

“Well, you are witnesses in an investigation, so the Donaldson Memorial Clinic had to give the police the information we asked for. When I heard about the fire, I was at the scene and followed your ambulance in. Johnny, I really need to talk to both of you. Is that ok?” Vince was hoping that Johnny and Nicole wouldn’t be mad at him for showing up.

“Yeah, Vince, we kind of expected someone from the police—just didn’t know it you be you. How are Chris and Jenny?” Nicole sat up when she heard Vince’s voice.

“They are both fine. They told us everything that happened including the fact that you wouldn’t let Chris go and he defied you. Please listen to me when I tell you Roy is hurting because of what he said to you. He is sorry that he didn’t give you a chance to explain. All of them are really upset that they didn’t realize that both of you were hurt. Johnny, Roy has spent the last two days looking for you. You know that fear for your children can make you do things you normally wouldn’t do. He really wants to apologize and everyone wants to know how you are.” Vince watched Nicole and Johnny’s faces. He really couldn’t read their expressions.

“Vince, what is going to happen to Chris?” Johnny needed time to think about what Vince had said and to talk to Nicole.

“Mark and Philip told us that they forced him into the store and he was not involved. Legally he is off the hook. But emotionally he is torn up about what this has done to you.”

“Vince, can you give us an hour? We need to talk. Come back in an hour and we will have something for you to tell Roy and the others.” Nicole was thinking about what Vince had said, too. They knew that Roy was just scared and that he didn’t mean what he had said.

“Sure, I’ll do that.” Vince was praying that they would want to see their family and friends who were waiting to hear from them. It was only four days until Christmas.

“ Johnny, I want to go home.” Nicole waited a few minutes after Vince left before she spoke.

The doctor was getting ready to release them, they just needed a ride. When the doctor returned, he gave his approval if they stayed with friends for a few days.

Vince returned an hour later to find Johnny and Nicole dressed and ready to go. He was more than happy to take them home. He was secretly pleased when he got an emergency call a block away from Station 51. Needing a place to drop them off, he pulled into the Station’s parking lot and helped Johnny and Nicole into the station before he took off.

The men were tired as they were returning to Station 51. All three crews were coming back to finish planning the party. They were all tired and hungry. It had been a long day trying to get the fire under control. It was already dinnertime. And they were wondering what had happened to Johnny and Nicole. No one could give them any information at the scene.

Roy’s mind was a million miles away as Hank pulled up out front. Would Vince find them again and get a chance to talk with Johnny and Nicole? Would they come home? Would he ever get the chance to apologize to them? He was slow getting out of the car. What had he done? He should have known that Nicole and Johnny would have given their lives for Chris and Jenny. But he accused them of not even caring about them.

“Roy, Chief, Mike, Marco, Charlie, get in here.” Chet came running around the car. “Guys, come into the dayroom. You’ve got to see this.”

Roy wondered what had Chet so excited and quickly followed him back into the dayroom. He stopped in the doorway as his eyes landed on the table. Who would have brought them dinner? There was no one in the station and no extra cars out back. There was enough for all three crews.

Hank had called the hospital and his wife to let them know the planning session was going to take place at Station 51 in about half an hour. So Roy didn’t get the chance to question the meal any farther before Joanne, Emily, Chief McConikee, Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early, Dixie, Dr. Morton, Chris, and Jenny entered the station to help plan the Christmas festivities. They were just as surprised as the firefighters—none of them had brought the meal.

What none of them knew was that Johnny and Nicole were Johnny’s office trying to find someone to stay with for the next few days. They had prepared dinner for the guys. Johnny had remembered the three crews were meeting to plan the Christmas party.

As they entered the office, Nicole sat on the couch and leaned her head on Johnny’s shoulder. “Honey, I understand why Roy reacted the way he did. We have seven children of our own. Think about how we would react in the same situation.” Nicole knew how much she missed her “family” and knew that Johnny did too. She just needed to give him a nudge.

“Angel, I agree. It’s just that it hurt so much. Roy didn’t even ask what happened or listen to us.” Johnny had realized how much he missed his “family” too.

“He was scared and I can’t blame him. Vince said he has been looking for us for two days.”

“Yeah, I heard the all the vehicles come back. Let’s go talk to them. I can’t say that I wouldn’t react the same way.” Johnny’s love for Nicole grew even deeper.


While Johnny and Nicole were talking in his office, the others had gathered to discuss the party to be held at Rampart on Christmas Eve—the guys’ next shift. But before anything could be said about the party talk turned to Johnny and Nicole.

“Daddy?” Jennifer needed to know if her favorite “Aunt and Uncle” were going to be ok. She felt that it would have been all her fault if something bad happened to her Aunt Nicole—after all Nicole was just protecting her.

“Yes, Jennifer?” Roy turned his attention to his very distraught daughter. He knew that she was thinking about Johnny and Nicole.

“Do you think that Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nicole are alright?” The tears were slipping out of the corners of Jennifer’s eyes.

“I don’t know, honey. I sure hope so.” Roy’s pain was reflected in Jenny’s eyes. “But what I really am worried about is their emotional state. I should never have said those things to them. They put their lives on the line for you kids and I accused them of not caring. Those two people are the closest thing we will ever have for a brother and sister. I will do anything to let them know how much they mean to me.” Roy’s hurt was evident in every word he spoke and the pain he was feeling showed on his face.

Mike’s quiet voice was heard as he thought about the whole situation. “You know I think this goes clear back to the situation with Tim and Cameron. During that time there were several occasions where we all told them that they were family and that we would do anything for them. They even put their lives in danger for all of us and we wouldn’t even do what they asked back then. Johnny and Nicole both shared how they felt like they really weren’t worth anything and we would all be better off if they weren’t alive. Nicole said she was beginning to feel like someone really cared for her and that maybe she was worth something. Knowing both of them, they are feeling like what happened that night really was their fault and that all of us hate them for it. This just reinforces their feelings of low-self esteem.” Mike didn’t even try to stop the tears.

“That’s right—back during that time, we all kept telling them how special they really were and said we would always be there for them. Then when Roy yelled at them, they felt they deserved it. Joanne didn’t contradict Roy, so they were sure she felt the same way he did. I probably strengthened their feelings of guilt when I stuck up for Roy. The final reinforcement was when no one really tried to stop them from leaving. Yes, I followed them, but when they said they were fine and refused treatment, I turned around and went back into the treatment room.” Dixie looked at the faces of the other people seated in the room.

Each person was lost deep in thought. Roy felt so guilty. This was really all his fault and he wouldn’t be surprised if everyone else in the room blamed him, too. He was shocked, though, when he heard Hank’s voice. “Roy, none of this is your fault. You were scared for Chris and Jenny that night and reacted to your fear. I’m sure Johnny and Nicole knows that deep down, too. What we need to do is make them see that none of this is their fault and that we really do feel they are both very special people and are part of our family.”

“Yeah, Roy. The Chief’s right. Now let’s see what we can do to help them.” Chet knew that it was all a big misunderstanding.

As Roy glanced around the room, he saw nothing but love from the others there. He knew that they didn’t blame him for anything. Now, he just had to convince himself and find a way to apologize to Johnny and Nicole.

It was decided that everyone would see if they could come up with some way to reach Johnny and Nicole and Roy promised he would continue to search for them. He didn’t know if Vince had found them after the fire yet or not. Since time was getting short the talk turned to the Christmas party. None of their hearts were really in it, but they couldn’t let the patients of Rampart down.

The discussion of the Christmas party was winding down. There was only one thing left and no one really wanted to voice it, but knowing it had to be done, Dixie spoke up. “Who are we going to get to take Johnny and Nicole’s place as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and hand out the presents this year?”

“The best Christmas present for me would be for Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nicole to be here so I can tell them how sorry I am and how much I really love them.” Chris didn’t feel like he deserved any presents this year.

“Yeah, that and to have them come over for Christmas like they planned and bring their kids.” Jenny didn’t feel like Christmas at that point either.

Roy just sat staring at his hands. He knew that no one was blaming him, but he really still felt guilty about the whole situation.

It was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. After a minute of complete silence, Dixie couldn’t stand it any longer. “I would like to know who is going to take their place as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Does anyone have any ideas?”

Johnny knew it was time to let them all know that they where ‘home.’ “You mean you really want to replace us that bad?” Johnny and Nicole had entered the room as Chris started talking. “I thought you wanted us to be Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.” Johnny smiled his trademark grin at the looks on Dr. Brackett and Dixie’s faces.

Chris and Jenny were out of the chairs and had their arms wrapped around Johnny and Nicole’s legs before anyone could say anything with Joanne close behind. It was only 30 seconds later that the rest of the group had surrounded them and everyone was talking at once.

Finally, Hank gave a shrill whistle and got everyone’s attention. “I think we all need to sit down and only talk one at a time.”

The laughter sounded good to everyone. Johnny led Nicole over to the couch as the rest of the group pulled up chairs and sat as close as they could. He had noticed that Chris stayed on the outside of the circle. With a lift of his hand and a smile, he beckoned Chris to come and sit next to him while they talked. Hesitantly, Chris went to sit between Nicole and Johnny. As soon as he sat down, Johnny put his arm around the boy and Nicole took his hand in hers. Chris couldn’t believe they would love him like they did. Jenny climbed into Nicole’s lap.

There was one thing that was really troubling Chris, though, and he knew the only way he would find out is to ask them. “Aunt Nicole, Uncle Johnny?” He didn’t know if he could find the words to say what he needed to say. “Uncle Johnny, I am so sorry I said that you and Aunt Nicole aren’t part of our family. I really didn’t mean it. You both are as important to me as my mom and dad. You are both very special to me and if you had died that night, I would never be able to forgive myself. It is my fault that you were hurt. I’m so sorry.” The tears were flowing down Chris’s cheeks. Jenny just sat and looked back and forth between her brother and her “uncle.”

Johnny thought about the fact that Chris and Roy had both yelled at them and told them they weren’t family, but when it came down to it all of their friends were here for them now. “Chris, I know that you are trying to fit in with the ‘cool’ crowd and that you are trying to make friends with some of them. We both know how you feel since we felt that way, too. But what you said that night, Chris, hurt very deeply. You say you didn’t mean what you said and right now we want to trust that you didn’t. But what happens the next time a situation like that comes up and we do something that you don’t like. Are you going to say it again? You and your dad are right, you know.”

Roy’s and Chris’s heads both snapped as they stared at Johnny.

“We aren’t really a part of your family. Nicole and I thought we were. Both of us had opened up a part of our hearts that we had locked away because we thought we could trust you, your parents and our friends not to crush that part again as it had been crushed in the past. But even if it was unintentional it was crushed.” Johnny’s heart was breaking but he had to be honest with Chris.

“Uncle Johnny, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I really didn’t mean what I said. Please forgive me. I won’t ever say that again. I love you both so much.” Chris knew there was a good chance he had lost his favorite “aunt and uncle” forever.

“You can’t say that you won’t ever say those words again, Chris. No one knows how they are going to react in any given situation. You may say something just as hurtful to your parents if a situation arises that they are forced to be strict with you and you don’t like what they have to do. However, we aren’t your parents, so the chance of you saying it to us again is higher. But, Chris, we want you and everyone else to know something—and that is that no matter what happens we love all of you and will gladly give our lives for any one of you if we ever had to.” Nicole wished she could go back to that night and erase everything that had happened, but she couldn’t.

“But Aunt Nicole, you and Uncle Johnny really are a part of our family. And I know Chris has really been hurting since that night. Won’t you forgive all of us? You said, Aunt Nicole that you would always be in our hearts and that was true. If you are always in our hearts, there is no way you aren’t really a part of our family. Please forgive Chris and Daddy and Dixie and everyone else, please.” Jenny wanted her family to be whole again.

Everyone in the room watched as the tears streamed down the faces of the four people who at that moment seemed to be in a world all their own.

“Chris, Jenny, love means forgiving the hurts and pain. Nicole and I love you all. There will be other times that we hurt each other and maybe some that will hurt as bad as this time. I hope not, but if we really love each other, we will make it through those times. Besides, actions speak louder than words. You, your family and all our friends are here and are concerned about us. That shows us how much you all really do care. We need to apologize to your parents.”

“Apologize to us? What for, Junior?” Roy wondered what Nicole and Johnny would have to apologize to them for.

“For not stopping Chris that night. For putting Chris and Jenny in danger.” Johnny would have gone on, but Roy stopped him.

“Johnny, none of that was your fault. Chris wanted to get away from you and no matter how hard you tried, you would not have been able to stop him. I am the one that really needs to apologize for accusing you of not caring about my kids when you both put your lives in the way of bullets to protect them. You could have been killed. There is nothing for you to apologize for. I said some pretty hateful things and I can never take them back. What I wouldn’t give to turn the clock back to that night and do it all over again. You are my ‘brother’ Johnny. I need you in my life. Joanne and I both need both of you in our lives.” Roy eyes pleaded with Johnny for forgiveness.

“Like I told Chris, Roy. Love is forgiving the hurts and pain. It will take some time for the hurt to go away, but we love all of you. All of you are our family and nothing will ever change that.” Johnny looked at the faces of the group in the room while he and Roy were talking. “Nothing will ever change that.”

There was one more thing Roy needed to know and that was how much ground they were going to have to cover to regain that feeling of family again. “Johnny, you told Chris that both you and Nicole had opened a part of your heart that you had locked away so it didn’t get crushed again. How badly did it get crushed this time?”

Johnny knew what Roy was asking. “It only got stepped on a little, Roy. It is definitely repairable. As a matter of fact, the repairing has already begun.”

“Johnny, I don’t understand you and Nicole.” Roy couldn’t believe that his best friend had just said that he was forgiven. He didn’t think that had the roles been reversed, he would be able to forgive so easily.

“What don’t you understand Roy?” Johnny thought he knew what Roy was getting at, but he needed to know for sure.

“If I had been in your shoes and you yelled at me like I yelled at you, I don’t think I would be sitting here right now saying that nothing would ever change the fact that we are family.” Roy loved both of these people.

“Well, you see, when other people have said things like you and Chris said to us in the past, they said them and disappeared out of our lives. But you and Chris—all of you—are here and let us know that you really didn’t mean it. We both know that sometimes we say things that we later regret. I’m sure that it will happen again in the future, but because we are family, we can say we are sorry and get through it together.” Johnny was standing in front of Roy by this time. He smiled at Roy as he pulled him up and into his embrace.

“There’s one more thing,” Jenny wondered how badly Johnny and Nicole had been hurt.

“What’s that, Jenny?” Nicole thought she had a pretty good idea of what Jenny was going to ask.

“How bad were you both hurt and are you going to be alright? What did the doctor say?”

The room became so quiet that all that could be heard was the sound of the traffic going by on the 405 outside.

Nicole was the one who spoke first. “Jenny, the bullets missed all our vital organs and did not cause any damage at all. The bullet that hit Uncle Johnny went right through his shoulder and missed everything. And as for me, the bullet went in near my spinal chord, but for some reason it stopped just after entering my body. They took it out and sewed me up. Neither of us suffered any permanent damage. The doctor at UCLA would like us to stay with friends for a few days, so we still need to find a place to stay. But, you know what?” She waited a minute while Jenny shook her head no. Then she continued. “The Lord was taking care of us that day.”

Johnny realized that Chief McConikee was in the room. “Uh, Chief McConikee, can I talk to you?” Johnny hoped he could stop his resignation from taking effect.

“Johnny, there is nothing to talk about. Your resignation was put into the circular file the minute it touched my desk.” Chief McConikee was glad to have one of his best Captains back.

“Thanks Chief.” Johnny thanked the Lord for the family and friends in the room.

Just then a group came through the door. It was Mrs. Martin and her son and daughter-in-law with the Gage children. “I’m glad you called and let us know to bring them here. Candace and Frank showed up this morning and they are going to take me to my daughter’s in Phoenix. I’m going to get to see my grandchildren for Christmas after all. Take care of yourselves.” Mrs. Martin kissed both Johnny and Nicole and then hurried behind her son out of the station. Everyone laughed at the whirlwind that had just hit Station 51.

It was getting late. Dr. Brackett noticed that both Johnny and Nicole were looking very tired and he motioned to Roy so that Roy noticed it, too.

“I think it’s about time that we took these two home and put them to bed. We will be staying with them for awhile at their place. If you guys want to visit them, you are welcome to stop by.” Roy was glad his family was complete once again. During the last two days, he realized how big a part of his family Johnny, Nicole and their kids really were.

Everyone was affected by the love Johnny and Nicole were demonstrating right now.

Within five minutes the Gages and DeSotos were on their way home.


It was quiet, as the adults sat in the living room after Chris and Jenny had gone to bed. Jenny had fallen asleep in her “Uncle’s” arms and Chris had fallen asleep snuggled in Nicole’s embrace. Johnny had helped carry the two children to bed. The DeSoto twins and all seven of the Gage kids had gone to be as soon as they arrived home.

“Roy?” Johnny looked over at his friend.

“Yeah?” Roy was still feeling guilty about how he had treated Johnny and Nicole that night. Why didn’t he see they were hurt? Why didn’t he listen to what really happened before he started yelling?

“Vince said that Chris is off the hook in regards to the attempted robbery. Is that true?” Johnny was hoping that the prayers he and Nicole had been sending heavenward the last two days had done some good.

“Yes, thankfully. Mark and Philip admitted they forced him to go into the store with them and that he was not involved. The only punishment he has to face is his mother’s and mine.” Roy was still trying to deal with the fact that not only had his son disobeyed his parents; he had actually put several people’s lives in danger.

“Good, we’re so thankful for that. We knew he wasn’t involved and have been praying that he wouldn’t be in trouble with the law.”

Roy noticed that both Johnny and Nicole both fighting a losing battle to stay awake. “Johnny, you and Nicole need to get some sleep. We can talk more tomorrow.”

Johnny didn’t argue. He knew that Nicole was tired. Plus he would probably sleep 24 hours. “Yeah, we’ll see you tomorrow.” Johnny and Nicole were both asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows

Things were definitely getting better.

The Christmas holidays were filled with extra blessings this year. Although none of them talked about it, each member of the “Station 51 Family” thought about the things that had happened over the last two years and the original A-shift crew each made a vow to themselves to not let anything happen to their “family”. They had been through a lot and there were things said and done that could have destroyed their family, but somehow they had gotten through it all together.

Johnny had made arrangements for his neighbor to play Santa Claus for the gathering this year. He had special presents for each member of his family, but was afraid he would get too emotional if he handed them out. It had been Nicole’s idea to ask Don to play the part and he had readily agreed. He smiled to himself as he pictured the looks on the faces of the kids when they saw Santa Claus. Johnny’s crew had five kids plus his seven. Roy’s crew had two plus his four. And Mike’s crew had two plus his three. It was going to be a wonderful evening.

The party had been in full swing for an hour when Johnny slipped out the back door to make sure Donald was ready. His trademark grin lit his face when he saw his neighbor. He looked great. Just as he was about to go back into the house so that Donald could make his entrance, Rebecca and Kimberly found him. After they had explained to him that Nicole had told them about “Santa Claus” and why, he gave Donald the presents they held in their hands and grinned even bigger. There were going to be two more surprises tonight.

Donald waited another fifteen minutes before making his entrance. He didn’t want to give it away and thought that following Johnny in would have raised suspicions. When the time was right, he pushed open the back door. “HO, HO, HO!”

The children all squealed with glee and raced over to hug Santa. Lisa, Jenny, Brandon, William and Chris all wanted to act uninterested, but were soon caught up in the laughter and the excitement. It didn’t take long for the five teens to shepherd the smaller kids back into the living room and get them seated on the floor around the overstuffed chair Roy led Santa to.

When he was finally seated and was able to get to his bag, Santa started handing out presents. He started with the children and all the adults smiled as the five teens helped tear off paper and made over the presents each one received. The teens were next and after opening their presents, they knew who Santa had gotten them from but they didn’t let on that they knew.

The adults had enjoyed watching the kids and were surprised when Santa started handing out presents to them. As each one opened their present, a special warmth filled their hearts. The love they all had for Johnny and Nicole grew stronger. Each one had mentioned at one time or another over the last few months about something they would like to get for Christmas but knew they wouldn’t get because it was either too expensive or too impractical. Johnny and Nicole had filed those words away and today each one got the present they thought they would never get.

Chet and Marco were both surprised when Santa pulled the last two presents out and handed them to them. They had already received their presents so didn’t know what they would possibly be getting now. Both men opened the brightly wrapped gifts under the careful eye of everyone else in the room. The looks on their faces was priceless when they both pulled out baby t-shirts and booties. They didn’t catch the meaning behind the presents, but everyone else did.

“Hey, Chet, I think someone got your size wrong.” Johnny took the opportunity to raze his engineer.

“This can’t be for me. These must be for your kids, Gage.” The look of confusion on both Chet’s and Marco’s faces had the rest of the group fighting to keep from laughing.

“No, Chet, I think that they are for your and Marco’s kids.” Johnny couldn’t believe Chet and Marco hadn’t caught on yet.

“We don’t have any kids.” The two men responded at the same time.

“Not yet, but if I figure it right, sometime in August you will.” Nicole watched the two men’s faces to see if it had sunk in yet.

“How would I get kids in August if I don’t have any now?” Chet didn’t realize he had spoken out loud. As everyone laughed at his words, it finally dawned on him what it all meant. “Kimberly? Really? In August?”

“Yes, honey.” Kimberly was laughing the hardest as the expressions on Chet’s face changed from one of confusion to understanding to excitement.

“Wow, Marco, we’re going to be fathers.” Chet was pulling Kimberly into his arms.

Marco had sat quietly as the scene had played out around him. Then he, too, realized what was happening and had Rebecca in his arms before anyone knew what was happening. “A father? I’m going to be a father.” Seeing they were under the mistletoe, he kissed her with all the love in his heart.

Don quietly slipped out the back door as the group congratulated the two couples and talk turned to the growing Station 51 family. He was glad he had been given the opportunity to share in the excitement. He sent up a silent prayer of thanks for his friends and a request that nothing would happen to them.

May, 1982

Nicole had been asked by headquarters to help with a Fire Department fund raiser for the Firefighter’s fund. She had suggested a talent show and the idea was met with enthusiasm. Every firefighter was encouraged to audition and every station had at least one representative. Chief McConikee, Nicole and Craig Brice had been the committee that selected the acts. No one knew who was performing as each one was asked to keep it a secret.

Everyone kept asking Johnny and Brice who was going to be performing and what they would be doing. But Johnny didn’t know because Nicole had not told him anything. They were hoping that people would come to see who was performing and their strategy seemed to be working. A week before the event, there had been more tickets sold than any other fund raising event the fire department had put on. It seemed that every off duty firefighter as well as all of their families was going to be in attendance.


Memorial Day dawned beautiful. Johnny and Nicole woke early and rode Thunder and Lightning out into the hills to watch the sunrise. Jenny and Lisa had spent the night, so they let the girls know where they were going and started out. As they rode through the fields, Nicole marveled at God’s handiwork as she looked around and listened to the birds singing and the sounds of the animals in the woods.

Sitting on the hillside wrapped in Johnny’s arms Nicole was awed at the vast array of colors that were painted across the palate of the sky as the sun slowly rose in the sky. It was a picture that she filed away for the days where everything seemed to be going all wrong. She was glad that Johnny had brought his camera. She knew he could capture the beautiful colors, but she also knew that it wouldn’t be the same as actually seeing it.

When the color show had finished, Nicole and Johnny rode back to their home. Nothing was said—it didn’t need to be, they just enjoyed being together and God’s beauty around them.

It was the memory of the beautiful sunrise and quiet moments they spent together that gave Nicole an extra bounce to her step through the rest of the day.


Nicole peeked out from behind the curtain to see a full house. She looked around and found the men from stations 51, 14, and 24 all sitting together minus Johnny. He was with her backstage. Craig Brice had volunteered to be the emcee for the program. Nicole had hesitated at first, but after the first rehearsal, it was clear he would do a good job.

As the night went on, Craig let go a little bit more. He actually had the whole auditorium laughing several times and had them on the edge of their seats as he introduced each act. Nicole prayed that he would be able to take some of tonight on the job and “loosen up” a little when dealing with his co-workers and the public.

Nicole, Craig and Chief McConikee had done a great job in selecting the acts for the program. There were several solos, a couple of stations had ensembles, three stations had gotten together and formed a chorus. Charlie Dwyer did his clown routine and even had the adults thoroughly enjoying it. Bob Bellingham did a comedy routine and had the audience laughing so hard there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he got done. Station 16 did a dance routine and station 45 did an acrobatic routine. There was even a chorus from the police department.

The night was winding down. It was time for the last act. Nicole watched as Craig took center stage to make the introduction. She was relieved that the show was almost over, but afraid because there was one more act. She didn’t want anything to ruin the program. She stopped and listened as Craig began.

“It took me and three of our fire chiefs to persuade our last duet to perform. They are both very shy and said they couldn’t sing. Well, they were singing after auditions one day when they thought no one was around. We heard them and had to end with their act. They finally consented and are going to sing ‘God Bless the USA’ in honor of all the young men and women who have fought for our country to protect our freedoms. Please join me in welcoming John and Nicole Gage.” Craig led the applause that followed.

The men of stations 51, 14, and 24 all looked at each other. Johnny always whistled off key, what did his singing sound like? They were about to find out.

Nicole and Johnny took center stage. Johnny squeezed Nicole’s hand and smiled at her as the music started. As Johnny sang the first verse Chet’s, Marco’s Roy’s, Mike’s and Hank’s jaws all dropped. In all the years they had known Johnny none of them knew he could sing.

God Bless the U.S.A. (Lee Greenwood)
If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

Then when Nicole joined him on the chorus the group couldn’t believe how well their voices blended.

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free,
And, I won't forget the men who died and gave that right to me.
And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land... God Bless the U.S.A.!

Then Nicole sang the second verse and there wasn’t another sound in the house.

From the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas from sea to shining sea,
From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A.,
There's pride in every American heart and it's time we stand and say:

Johnny joined her on the chorus and again everyone marveled at how well their voices blended.

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free,
And, I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me.
And, I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land... God Bless the U.S.A!!

When they finished the audience rose to its feet and applauded. Nicole and Johnny both turned so red they could see it in the back row. As they left the stage someone asked them to sing “God Bless America” and others soon joined in. So Johnny and Nicole returned to the stage and the music began again.

God Bless America (by Irving Berlin)
" While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer."

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home

As they sang the chorus again they asked everyone to join them and it was the perfect ending to a great evening. As the song and applause died away, Craig joined Johnny and Nicole on stage and thanked everyone for coming. It had been an evening that all of them would remember for a long time.


Johnny and Nicole exited the stage and found the whole group of firefighters from Stations 51, 14 and 24 and their families waiting for them. Roy was in the front. “Why didn’t you tell us before that you could sing, Junior?”

Johnny smiled as Roy called him the nickname he had used when they were partnered together. “No one ever asked.”

“Well, next year we are going to make sure you and Nicole are singing again. That was great.” Chet was proud of Johnny and Nicole.

Wanting to take the attention off of them, Johnny looked around the group. “Thanks for coming, but we are creating a fire hazard here. Everyone, don’t forget the barbeque at our ranch this Saturday. Good night.”

The group broke up and every one went to their respective homes with Roy, Chet, Mike, Marco and Hank each marveling at the fact that they were still learning new things about their friend even after all these years.

August 1982

Chet had become a basket case. Johnny often retreated to his office to hide the laughter as he watched Chet as the day got closer for his child to be born. He often called Roy to see how Marco was doing and regaled Roy with Chet’s antics. He felt sorry for Kimberly as Chet called her every five minutes whenever they were in the station. At least Chet’s job wasn’t suffering and Johnny was surprised that he wished for busy shifts. Roy was no comfort—he would often laugh at Johnny’s troubles and tell him he was glad it wasn’t him. Marco was calm.

The day had been unusually slow and Chet was getting on everyone’s nerves. Kimberly had gone somewhere without telling Chet where to get away from his constant calling and Chet was fit to be tied. Johnny wanted to strangle Chet, but he knew that Chet was just concerned—this was his first child. Although he would have rather stayed in his office, he couldn’t leave his crew to deal with Chet alone.

“Hey, Chet, let’s go out back and shoot some hoops.” Johnny knew he had to harness Chet’s nervous energy soon or he would have a major problem on his hands.

“Ok. But I want to try to get in touch with Kimberly again.” Chet knew he was worrying too much, but he couldn’t stop. So he got ready to pick up the phone when the klaxons sounded.

Chet stopped dead in his tracks as the dispatcher sent squads 51 and 14 to Marco’s home for two women in labor. He knew it had to be Kimberly and Rebecca. Before he could move, Johnny picked up the phone and called Roy. Then they both told dispatch that Engines 51 and 14 would be joining the squads and everyone ran to the engine. Johnny just prayed that Chet would get them there safely. On the way, he had dispatch get in touch with Chief Stanley and talked to him on a private frequency. Hank was just waiting for Johnny’s call. He had recognized the address and assured Johnny that he would have replacement engineers meet 51 and 14 at Marco’s house. Johnny smiled as he hung the mike back in its spot.

Engine 51 made it just after the two squads and Johnny had to hold on as Chet threw it into park and was out the door almost before he had shut it down. When engine 14 arrived ten seconds later, he watched Marco do the same thing. Looking at Roy he just shook his head and laughed.

Replacement engineers were at Marco’s house by the time the paramedics had the women ready to transport. Between the paramedics and captains, arrangements were made to get Chet and Marco’s cars from their respective stations to the hospital. It was a good thing they did as Chet passed out on seeing his wife’s water break and Marco went numb.

When their shift ended the next morning, Johnny and Roy met at the hospital and went to check on their friends. They had delivered the cars and were going to get rides back to their stations with the next shifts’ paramedics after they picked up supplies. The two men went to the expectant fathers’ waiting room and arrived just as Chet and Marco came out of the delivery room with smiles on their faces.

Chet was the proud father of a son, Aaron Kelly, and Marco was the proud father of triplets, Grace, Noelle and Joshua Lopez. By the time Roy and Johnny were ready to leave, Mike, Hank and all the crews of Station 51 and 14 had arrived to see the newest additions to the station 51 family.

November, 1982

It was the middle of flu season and the LA County Fire Department had been hit hard. Knowing how short-handed headquarters was, Hank, Roy, Johnny, Mike, Chet and Marco all volunteered to once again fill the jobs they had held while on duty as the original Station 51’s A-shift. It felt good to all of them to be working together again as a team. They were called out to a house fire that was threatening to spread in the oppressive heat and draught LA had been experiencing. The house was fully involved when they arrived on the scene. Hank immediately called for a second and third alarm to their location and then gave instructions to his crew. Johnny and Roy quickly pulled on their gear and ran for the building. Both men were thinking how great it was to be working side by side again. They had no way of knowing if anyone was inside or not, so they had to do a sweep. They did a quick, but thorough, check and then ran back to grab a 2 ½ inch hose to back up Chet and Marco on the west side of the building. Station 14 had arrived and was working on the east side and the third alarm they had called in brought Station 24 who was working on the north side.

Chet and Marco had beaten the fire back enough that they were inside the building. They were in the middle of what was the main lobby of the large, expensive house.

To be continued in A Dark Cloud or A Silver Lining

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