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.

A World Turned Upside Down – for the Better?

February, 1987

The next few months were spent preparing for and celebrating Brandon Stoker’s wedding. It was with great pride that Mike Stoker stood with his son as his best man and all five of Brandon’s “uncles” stood as his groomsmen. Once again the Station 51 family was expanding and they welcomed Brittany Chandler as the newest member.


July, 1987

Roy sat in his office trying to complete the endless stream of paperwork he, as Captain, always had. But his mind kept wandering back to the annual 4th of July picnic at the Gage’s ranch. It had been great fun as always, but he was worried about Nicole. She seemed overly tired at the picnic. When he had mentioned it later to Joanne, she had responded that she had been noticing that Nicole had been more tired than usual for about two weeks. Nicole’s response to Joanne when she mentioned it was that Nicole didn’t sleep well when Johnny was working on a case and he had been working on a big one. But as Roy thought about the symptoms he had noticed, he wasn’t so sure it was just that she wasn’t sleeping. His thoughts were pulled back to his job as the tones sounded calling his station as well as Johnny’s and Mike’s to a warehouse fire.


Johnny’s station had been the first one on scene, so he was sending his crew to do cleanup and was telling LA that Roy’s and Mike’s stations were done, when Roy stopped him. “Johnny, my crew is going to help yours clean up. I would like to talk to you for a few minutes.”

Johnny let LA know the change in assignments and followed Roy over to lean against Engine 51. “What did you need to talk to me about, Roy?”

“Johnny, I am a little concerned about Nicole. She looked so tired the other day and I noticed her sitting down a lot. I didn’t even think about it until this morning that I had seen bruises on her arms and legs and she had a couple of bloody noses while we were there. Is there something going on?”

“I thought it was just me. Nicole keeps telling me I am overreacting when I mention any of the things I have seen. I am worried about her, too. Besides the symptoms you have mentioned she has been very pale, light-headed and dizzy. She keeps telling me she just gets up too fast or that she has been doing something in one position too long or some other reason and that I was just being overprotective. I didn’t really believe her, but let it go.”

“Well, Johnny, it’s not just you. Joanne and I both noticed it the other night and it has us both worried.”

“I noticed it, too.” Neither man had noticed Mike walk up beside them. “I sent my men in to help with clean up. I wanted to talk to Johnny about Nicole. I guess you beat me to it Roy.”

“You noticed it too, Mike?” Johnny knew there was more going on than him overreacting.

“Yeah, so did Beth. She made me promise to talk to you about it if I got the chance. We have all been busy this morning so this is the first chance I got.”

“Thanks, Roy, and thanks, Mike. I plan on talking to her tonight. I just pray that I can convince her to see a doctor if for no other reason than to ease my mind. If I can’t get her to agree tonight, I will personally hogtie her and take her to the doctor tomorrow.” Johnny was really getting concerned.

“Let us know and we’ll do all we can to help.” Roy knew that Johnny was worried about his wife. They were all worried about their friend. None of them knew they wouldn’t have to wait until the next day before finding out what was going on with Nicole.


Nicole had woken with another headache. She had been getting a lot of them lately on top of the symptoms Roy, Mike and Johnny had all noticed. She was beginning to worry because nothing was helping. She had first thought it was the stress of Johnny working on another arson investigation. Then she thought maybe she was pregnant again. She had experienced most of the symptoms during one or more of her pregnancies.

With a sigh, Nicole called the doctor to make an appointment. She was relieved when the receptionist told her they had a cancellation and asked if she could get there in 30 minutes. Nicole said yes and was out the door before Johnny had a chance to call her.


Nicole was shaking when she pulled into the parking lot of Station 51. What was she going to do? This would turn their world upside down. She knew Johnny wasn’t prepared for it. But then again, neither was she. She was pleased to find that Beth Stoker was visiting with Joanne when she called and asked her to watch the kids. Beth had offered to stay and help as long as she was needed. Now Nicole needed to talk to Johnny.

Nicole let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding when she entered the station and found that the crew was in quarters. She didn’t know what she would have done if they were on a run. She didn’t think she could drive home.

“Hey, Nicole, what brings you to the station?” Chet was surprised to see her. Johnny hadn’t said anything about Nicole coming for a visit.

“I was in town and thought I would stop and see my husband. Is he in his office?” There was no way Nicole was going to tell anyone the real reason she was there until she had a chance to talk to Johnny.

“Yeah, he probably would like a break from all the paperwork.” Chet could tell there was something wrong.


Nicole stood for a second watching her husband in his “never-ending” paperwork. Knowing she needed to tell Johnny now, she quietly knocked on the open door.

Johnny looked up at the soft knock. “Nicole, I was just thinking about you, Angel. Come in and have a seat.” He didn’t think she looked well at all as he came from behind his desk. After he had made sure she was seated, he closed the door. “What brings you by here?”

Taking a deep breath, Nicole looked at the concerned face of her husband. “I just came from Dr. Watson’s office.”

Before Nicole could go any further, Johnny stood up and opened the office door. “Chet?”

Chet came from the dayroom when he heard Johnny’s call. “Yeah, Cap?”

“Put in a call to headquarters and stand the engine down for about an hour.” He didn’t wait for Chet’s reply before he closed the door and once again joined his wife.


Forty-five minutes later, Chet was ready to go find out what was going on in Johnny’s office when he heard the sound of vehicles pulling into their station. Looking out the door he was surprised to see the squads and engines from stations 14 and 24 as well as Chief Stanley’s car on the front tarmac. He watched as Mike, Roy and Hank met at the front of the station and went directly into Johnny’s office. The two crews slowly made their way into the station. By this time William had joined Chet watching the men coming towards the station. When Chris and Brandon entered, William and Chet grabbed them.

William was looking at the closed door of Johnny’s office. “Does anyone know what is going on?”

“No, we were just starting a drill when Chief Stanley walked in. He and Captain Stoker went into Cap’s office. A few minutes later they walked out and we headed for Station 14. Chief Stanley and Captain Stoker went into Captain’s DeSoto’s office. When the three men came out, we all loaded up and headed over here.” Brandon had been wondering what was going on since he first saw Chief Stanley enter their station.

Before any of them could ask anymore questions, Captain Charlie Dwyer, Captain Joshua Washington, and Captain Bob Bellingham entered the station. They were just about to ask what the Captains were doing there when the door to Johnny’s office opened and Chief Stanley and Captain Stoker walked out.

“Charlie, Bob, Joshua, thanks for coming on such short notice. Please join us and the rest of the crews so we can tell everyone what is going on.” Hank led the way into the kitchen.

As Hank waited for everyone to finish getting a cup of coffee and find a place to either stand or sit, he looked at each one of them. It was a good group and he knew they would be willing to help in anyway they could. When everyone was set, Hank took a deep breath.

The worry that had settled in the hearts of all of them was evident in Chris’s voice when he couldn’t wait any longer. “Uncle Hank, what’s going on? Is something wrong with Uncle Johnny?”

Hank smiled to himself when Chris called them both “Uncle” instead of Chief and Captain. He knew that Chris and both Stoker boys would be the ones that were worried the most. “No, Chris, Captain Gage is fine. Gentlemen, Nicole has just been diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Captain Dwyer will be filling in for Captain Gage for the rest of this shift. Captain Washington will be filling in for Captain Stoker and Captain Bellingham will be filling in for Captain DeSoto. Captain DeSoto will be taking the Gages to Dr. Swan’s office to discuss Nicole’s treatment. Captain Stoker is going to go out to the Gage’s to help with the kids and fill Joanne and Beth in on what is going on. Chet, Marco, Brandon, please call Kimberly, Rebecca and Brittany and let them know, too. If they can, I would like to have them go out to the DeSotos to help. I can’t get replacements for the rest of you, so I know you will be out there tomorrow along with your families. I don’t think we should have anyone else go out there now until Captain and Mrs. Gage have time to find out what the doctor suggests and let this news sink in.”

“Chief, how serious is it? I know that if they catch it early enough they can treat it for a long time.” Chet voiced what was in the minds of each of the crew members.

“Well, that is one of the things they are going to be determining when Johnny and Nicole get to the doctor’s office. But, from what Dr. Swan told Johnny on the phone it sounds like it is further along than the doctor would have like when they found it. Right now all we can do is wait, pray, and be there for Johnny and Nicole.” Hank stopped worrying about protocol. He knew that everyone in the room was as worried about Johnny and Nicole as he was. They were family.

What none of them knew was that Dr. Swan had wanted to keep Nicole at the hospital because she needed a blood transfusion. She had told him she wanted to talk to Johnny personally instead of over the phone and promised she would return to Dr. Swan’s office as soon as she could. But fate was going to step in.

Hank was just about to answer some of the questions that were being thrown at him when they all heard Roy’s voice. “Brandon, Jim, Bob, grab the gear and get in here NOW!”

Jim and Bob grabbed their gear as Brandon ran towards Johnny’s office door. There he found Johnny on the floor with Nicole’s head in his lap and tears running down his face. Roy was taking Nicole’s pulse.

Roy was about to ask someone to call in a still alarm when he heard Hank’s voice on the microphone. “LA we have a still alarm at station 51. Please send an ambulance.”

“10-4, station 51.” The call for the ambulance could be heard over the loud speaker throughout the station. The rest of the men gathered in a group out of the way of the paramedics working on Nicole but close enough to let Johnny know they were there.

Jim grabbed the biophone as Brandon and Bob worked on Nicole. Roy had stepped aside as he knew he was too close to the situation. “Rampart, this is Squad 51, how do you read?”

“Squad 51, this is Rampart. Go ahead.” Dixie had heard the still alarm called out but didn’t know what was going on. As Brandon relayed what was happening, both Dr. Brackett and Dr. Swan walked by. Dixie grabbed them. Dr. Swan had been afraid something like this was going to happen. They had found that Nicole was fighting an infection among other things and she really needed to be in the hospital. He was somewhat relieved when it was only three minutes later that Nicole was on her way to the hospital to get the treatment she needed. He had hoped she would be alright until she returned to the hospital, but that wasn’t the case. He just hoped they had caught this in time to help her.

Johnny was numb. ~Honey, Dr. Watson had a Dr. Swan look at my blood tests. Johnny, I have aplastic anemia.~ Aplastic anemia – the words kept running through his mind. His medical training provided him with more information than he really wanted to know right now. He followed Nicole’s gurney into the treatment room and grabbed her hand when she reached for him. His worry eased a tiny bit as Nicole smiled at him. She was awake and he prayed that was a good sign. Wanting to know what to expect, Johnny listened to the doctor’s commands and watched as a blood transfusion was set up and medications were administered. It took on a whole new meaning as he watched. After all, it was his wife lying on the examination table, not a stranger. Roy had remained in the treatment room as a support for Johnny. Dr. Brackett and Carol had stayed to assist Dr. Swan.

“Well, Nicole, I think you returned a little sooner than you thought you were going to.” Dr. Swan was pleased with Nicole’s quick response to the treatment he had prescribed. “Johnny, Nicole, the reason Nicole passed out was because she needed immediate treatment for a severe infection from a sore on her back. I would like her to stay here tonight and we will start immediate drug therapy. “

“We were headed back here when I passed out. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you sooner, Dr. Swan. I should have stayed here then, but I just wanted to talk to Johnny first. I didn’t want him to get the news over the phone.”

“I can understand that, but now we need to get you admitted so we can run some more tests. Then I am going to have a talk with you and your husband about where we go from here.”

“Thank you, Dr. Swan.” Johnny had been listening carefully to the conversation and prayed that what lay ahead was not too rough on any of them. But, of course, his biggest concern was Nicole.

“You’re welcome, Johnny. I’ll be up to see both of you after Nicole has been settled and we can discuss the tests and go from there. I should see you in a few minutes.” Dr. Swan shook Johnny’s hand before walking out of the treatment room. He knew they needed a few minutes to absorb the news before he told them the rest.

Being careful of the tubing for the transfusion she was receiving, Johnny pulled Nicole into his arms as he saw the fear on her face. His mind was going in a thousand directions, but the one prayer that kept going from his heart was that Nicole would beat this and maybe the doctor was wrong. He let his tears mix with hers as the medical personnel quietly left the room to let them have a few minutes of privacy while Nicole’s room was being made ready. Dr. Brackett and Roy were the last ones out of the room and they sent up silent prayers for the couple.

Roy was having a difficult time dealing with what he had learned. Dr. Brackett was speechless. This had been the farthest thing from any of their minds.

“Are you sure?” could be heard from Dr. Brackett as he followed Dr. Swan from the room. He, too, was praying that the doctor was wrong.

“Yes, Kel, I’m sure. I know that this is not what you want to hear, but it is the truth. I want to grab the medications I need for her so we can get started as soon as possible. Kel, her case is pretty serious. We need to get her on the transplant list immediately. Transfusions and medications will work for a while, but I don’t think it is going to be very long until she needs a bone marrow transplant unless one of her relatives is a match.”

“She has no living relatives. All her family is gone. How long do you thing she has?”

“Then I will put her name on the list right now. I am not going to even try to guess how long she might have.” Dr. Swan could feel Dr. Brackett’s eyes follow him down the hall as he went to the Nurses’ station to immediately get Nicole on the transplant list.

Kel’s feet seemed glued to the spot he was in. Dixie and Joe walked to up see Kelly Brackett staring down the hall.

“What’s wrong, Kel?” Dixie didn’t like the look on Kel’s face. She and Joe had been kept busy in one of the treatment rooms dealing with the victim of a car accident and didn’t know Nicole had been brought in.

“Nicole Gage was brought in a little while ago.” Kel didn’t want to say it out loud. If he kept quiet maybe they would all wake up to find out it was just a dream.

“Was she in an accident or something?” Now Joe was beginning to becoming concerned.

Taking a deep breath, Kel knew he had to answer their questions. “No, she had stopped at the station to talk to Johnny about her doctor’s appointment this morning and she passed out from an infection.” Knowing he needed to tell them everything, he turned to face his friends. “She saw Dr. Watson today and he turned her case over to Dr. Swan. Nicole has acute aplastic anemia.” Kel knew that no matter how much he wanted it not to be true, Dr. Swan had run the blood tests himself—three times.

“How bad is it?” Mike and Hank had wandered out to see if they could find out what was going on. Mike’s face turned white as he thought about what he heard.

“We don’t know for sure. Dr. Swan won’t make any guesses. We need to see how she responds to treatment, but she will need a bone marrow transplant eventually.” Dr. Brackett looked at the faces of their friends.

“But don’t you need a relative for that?” Hank was worried about his friends.

“Yes, but Dr. Swan is putting her name on the transplant list right now and we are praying that she will be one of the lucky ones who will find a match from someone unrelated.”

Dr. Swan returned to the group standing in the middle of the hallway. “Kel, we need to go talk to the Gages now. I want to get Nicole started on treatment immediately. I don’t want to wait any longer. We will start now instead of waiting until she gets sent upstairs.”

Kelly Brackett followed Dr. Swan back to treatment room 1 with a heavy heart.


Johnny lost the battle with his tears. He was wondering when he was going to wake up from this nightmare.

It was Nicole who was trying to reassure her husband.” “Johnny, it’s going to be alright. Remember God is always in control. We don’t know what is going to happen, but it will be alright.” Being careful of her the tubes for her transfusion and IV antibiotics, Nicole sat up and pulled her husband into her arms.

That was how Dr. Swan and Dr. Brackett found them when they returned to the treatment room.


Two hours later, Nicole had been settled into a private room and had been visited by all their friends. Now it was just Johnny, Roy and Joanne left in the room. Rebecca, Kimberly and Brittany had sent Joanne to the hospital to be there for Nicole as well as Johnny and Roy as soon as they arrived at the DeSoto home. Nicole had finished her treatment and was beginning to get tired. As she thought about all the doctor had told her, it suddenly seemed too hard. She looked at the pain etched on Roy and Joanne’s faces and the pain mixed with fear and worry on Johnny’s face. That combined with how she was feeling and fatigue from her treatments broke down her resolve and it was now Johnny’s turn to pull her into an embrace and let her cry.

Roy and Joanne knew that their friends needed a little time alone. “Johnny, Joanne and I are going home. We are going to pick up Jenny and your kids. The kids will stay with us as long as you need them to. I talked to Hank earlier and your shifts have been covered for at least the next week.” Roy put his arm around Johnny who was holding Nicole.

“Thanks, Roy. I’ll give you time to get home and then I’ll call the kids so we can say goodnight. Roy, Joanne, thank you for just being here. It has meant so much to us.”

“You’re both family. There is no place else we would rather be.” Joanne kissed Johnny on the cheek and patted Nicole’s hand as she and Roy left Nicole and Johnny wrapped in each other’s arms.


November, 1987

It had been four months since they had received Nicole’s diagnosis—four months of blood transfusions, drug therapies, and waiting to see if a donor would be found to provide her with a transplant. The medications Dr. Swan was trying were not working. She was at the point that she had to have transfusions every other week, but Dr. Swan had indicated that she would probably start needing them more often.


January, 1988

The DeSotos had held the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for the “Station 51” family in place of the Gages. Everyone came, but the celebrations were subdued. Everyone was praying for a Christmas miracle for Nicole. New Years had been scaled back so that only the original Station 51 A-Shift families gathered to celebrate and their New Year’s wish was that a donor would be found for Nicole. And during the whole time, Nicole was very tired and weak—something that worried all of her “family”.

Chet had been to visit Nicole during her latest transfusion. Every time she had a transfusion, she had to spend a couple of nights in the hospital. Dr. Swan had moved Nicole up on the donor list and was praying one would be found soon. He had started her on chemo in preparation for a transplant even though a donor hadn’t been found yet. Dr. Swan was growing close to the Gages and really wanted Nicole to live. She would need the transplant as soon as a donor was located and he wanted to be ready the second one was found.

As Chet walked out of Nicole’s room, he tried to think of a way he could help. Then it hit him and he headed for LA County Fire Department headquarters. A couple hours later the call had gone out to all fire stations and all off-duty firefighters. Chet had gotten the department to sponsor testing of all willing firefighters and their families. It was a long shot, but he was praying that they would find a match for Nicole. At least he knew he had done his part in helping someone he cared a great deal about. It hadn’t taken any persuasion on his part to get headquarters to agree—Johnny was well respected by all and Nicole had become as much a part of the “brotherhood” as Johnny through her volunteering and caring. It did surprise Chet how fast it was put together, but he was thankful for the speed. Now if it would only produce a miracle.


Roy, Hank, Chet, Mike and Marco took turns being at the hospital during the times that had been set aside for the fire department’s testing of volunteers for a donor for Nicole. They were there to personally thank each person who came in to get tested. It had been agreed upon between the five men to take on this responsibility so that Johnny wouldn’t have to be there every day as they knew he would have tried to do. It didn’t surprise them, though, that Johnny made an appearance at least once during each day to thank those he could. As Roy knew he would, Johnny encouraged those who were tested but didn’t match Nicole to think about being donors if they matched someone else on the registry. Because of Johnny’s encouragement, several firefighters and their family members did just that.

It was encouraging to see the number of people who had volunteered to get tested and even more of an encouragement that many added their name to the list of possible donors for others. But it was personally discouraging to the members of the Station 51 family that a match had not been found for Nicole. There had been five full days of testing, but no one came close to matching. On the surface, Johnny was not letting it bothering him, but those who knew him best saw beneath the veneer and knew he was hurting.

On the seventh and probably the last day of testing, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Swan walked into the testing area. There was still a steady stream of people getting tested and a steady stream adding their name to the list to donate to others. Although it didn’t look promising for Nicole, Johnny and Nicole had both told the two doctors something good had come out of it. Dr. Brackett thought back to their conversation where Nicole had said that maybe that was why she had gotten sick—so that others might get the transplants they needed. He was amazed at her strength through all of this.

The two doctors were watching the process in the room when one of the lab technicians who had been assigned to do the testing approached them. “Dr. Swan, Dr. Brackett, we have a match.”

Glancing at each other, the two men broke into huge smiles. “Are you sure?” Dr. Brackett didn’t want to get his friends’ hopes up only to have them dashed because of a mistake.

“Yes, I ran the test twice. Then I ran another test I think you both should see.” The lab technician had been amazed that the match was a perfect match—something you don’t find unless it is a family member.

Wondering if there was a problem with the donor, the two doctors hurried after the lab technician to see what he had found.


Dr. Brackett had asked Joseph Dean to come to his office to talk to him and Dr. Swan. As he waited for the two men to arrive, Dr. Brackett tried to put his thoughts into a coherent form. He didn’t have long to wait as his thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. When he opened it, both Joseph Dean and Dr. Swan entered.

After everyone was seated, Dr. Swan started. “Mr. Dean, we asked you here today to tell you that you are a perfect match for Nicole Gage. We would like to set up a time for the transplant if that is alright with you.”

“Sure, I’m ready anytime you want to do it.” Joseph was glad he could help. Maybe somehow this would make up for what had happened when he was younger. It would never take away the pain, but maybe it would ease it a little.

“Great, but there are a few questions we need to ask you.” Dr. Brackett looked at the man sitting in front of him. The questions he had to ask would probably be hard ones, but they needed to be asked. So for the next 30 minutes, Joseph Dean answered questions he never thought he would be asked.


Roy and Johnny were walking down the hallway when Dr. Brackett, Dr. Swan and Joseph Dean stepped out of Dr. Brackett’s office. Roy stopped dead in his tracks when he saw who was with the two doctors. “Joseph?”

Four sets of eyes turned to Roy when they heard the Captain’s voice. Joseph smiled when he saw who it was. “Roy, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

Roy’s face broke into a big grin and he started towards Joseph just as Joseph started towards him. The two doctors and Johnny watched as the two men met and embraced. “What are you doing here?” Roy hadn’t seen Joseph in a little over a year and hadn’t talked to him in about four months.

“We moved to LA about three weeks ago and I am now a firefighter for the city of Los Angeles.” Joseph had been meaning to call Roy, but hadn’t had a chance yet.

“What brings you to Rampart?” Roy had forgotten about his friends for the moment.

“I can answer that for you.” Dr. Brackett wondered how these two men knew each other. “Evidently you two already know each other.”

Roy looked up at that moment and realized the doctors and Johnny had been watching the whole thing. “Yeah, Joseph is my cousin.”

“Your cousin? Well, I think there are a few things that we need to talk to you and Johnny about. Joseph was tested and he is a perfect match for Nicole. We were just on our way to set up a time for a bone marrow transplant.” Dr. Brackett wasn’t sure how much he should tell the two Captains standing in front of him now. After all, that was Joseph’s business.

“I think we’d better tell them the whole thing first.” Joseph knew that Roy was not aware of what had happened when Joseph was younger. Although the two cousins had been growing closer over the last few years, Roy’s mother and Joseph’s father had not talked to each other since Joseph was four years old. It was only when Roy’s father was very ill, that the two siblings had finally made up and Joseph and Roy had met for the first time.

“Ok, let’s go into the doctor’s lounge and talk. It’s bigger than my office.” Dr. Brackett led the way into the lounge. ~I wonder what Johnny and Roy will think of what Joseph has to tell them.~

It was 25 minutes later that Roy sat back in his chair and looked at his best friend. Neither man could believe what they had just heard. It was quiet in the room as Joseph thought about what Johnny and Roy had shared with him. Johnny was the first to find his voice. “Let’s go talk to Nicole. I know she is visiting Dixie and would love to meet you. She will be as grateful to you as I am for your willingness to be a donor.”

“And I would love to meet her. I am just glad that I am a perfect match.” Joseph wanted to talk to Nicole as much as Johnny did.

As if on cue, the lounge door opened and Dixie and Nicole walked in. “Hi honey. I didn’t know you were here.” Nicole was surprised to see her husband sitting at the table.

“Roy and I were here for a paramedic meeting and got stopped by Dr. Brackett before we got to the meeting. Dr. Brackett and Dr. Swan have some great news.” Johnny pulled out the chair closest to him and indicated Nicole should sit down. She looked especially tired today.

Dixie was about to leave when Joseph called her name. “Dixie, you are welcome to stay.” She turned and sat down as Dr. Brackett took over.

“Joseph Dean is one of the LA City firefighters who heard about our testing and was tested to see if he was a possible donor. We are happy to say that not only can he be a donor, he is a perfect match.”

Nicole turned to Joseph with eyes bright with unshed tears. “Thank you, Mr. Dean. I know that thank you is so inadequate and I can never repay you.”

“Well, let me tell you something. It is because I was tested that I finally have some answers to something that happened almost 35 years ago.”

“What’s that?”

“I have a younger brother, Alex, and a younger sister we called Peanut. My parents had taken my brother, sister and me to the park in 1954 to celebrate my sister’s second birthday and my brother’s sixth birthday. I was eight at the time. Mom had asked me to keep an eye on Alex and Peanut while she and Dad got the food and presents ready. I got tired of pushing peanut in the swing and looked over to see how much longer Mom and Dad were going to be. I saw them talking to some friends of the family and was a little upset that they were talking and taking so long. A couple of the guys from my class at school came over and wanted Alex and me to play a little basketball on the court that was right next to the swings. I thought Peanut would be ok as she had moved to the sandbox at the end of the swing set. I was going to be able to keep my eyes on her—at least that’s what I told myself. Alex and I got involved in the game and I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me. I knew there were other people in the area, but I didn’t think anything about it until our parents called us to eat and we couldn’t find Peanut anywhere. After three hours of searching, a park employee had returned to the area and said he had seen a couple take Peanut in their car. At that moment, I felt horrible. I was the one who was supposed to be watching her. Anyway, the trail grew cold after three months and Peanut was never located. Nothing was ever said about it around my mother because she would break into tears and a deep depression. After a while Peanut was forgotten—it was like she had never existed. Mom died in 1960 and Dad always said he only had two children when asked. But I never forgot because I was the one who was responsible for her and it was my fault.”

“I don’t think it was your fault. You were only eight years old. What could you have done against a couple?” Nicole could see how this incident bothered Joseph even now.

“But what does that have to do with the results of the test you took to see if you could be a donor?” Dixie wondered why Joseph was sharing this story now.

“The lab technician noticed something when he did the testing and because of it ran some other tests.” Dr. Brackett was waiting to see the reactions to the rest of what they had to tell Nicole and Dixie.

“What did he discover?” Dixie was really getting curious now.

“That Nicole is my sister.” Joseph watched Nicole’s face to see what her reaction would be. Johnny and Roy had shared with Joseph what Nicole’s life had been like growing up and all she had to endure. He just hoped she wouldn’t hate him because it was his fault she had endured such a difficult childhood. Joseph couldn’t get over how much Nicole looked like their mother.

“ J.J.?” Nicole had been having a strange feeling from the moment she had met Joseph that got stronger as he said his sister was nicknamed Peanut. She had often thought she could remember two older boys who played with her and called her Peanut. She thought she remembered calling one of them J.J. and the other ‘lec. But when her parents—or the people she thought were her parents—had told her that she had never had any brothers, she thought it must had just been a dream.

“Yeah, Peanut. It’s me.” Joseph held his breath as Nicole slowly stood to her feet. He watched as she circled the table and then pulled him up into her arms.

“You are real. It wasn’t just a dream like my parents told me.” Nicole was crying as she held the brother she had not seen in over 34 years.

“Yeah, I’m real. And you don’t know how happy I am to finally get to hold you again and to know that you are alive.”

“I wish I could have said goodbye to Mom. Did she have reddish brown hair and blue eyes that were filled with love and laughter? How did she die?”

“Yes, she did. But that laughter died the day you disappeared. Mom loved Alex and me and never abandoned us after that day, but the laughter was gone. I think she would have found it again if she hadn’t been killed in a car accident. Her eyes were beginning to sparkle again towards the end of her life.”

“Where are Dad and Alex? Is Dad as gruff sounding but fun loving as he always was? Is Alex still a trouble maker?”

“Dad is quite as fun loving as you remember. That day was hard on all of us. Alex was in the car with Mom the day she was killed. He was in the hospital for almost a year because of his injuries and therapy. But the day he came home, Dad was almost back to the way he was before you disappeared. Alex and Dad live in Escondido. Alex is married and has three kids. He settled down after the accident and now has a troublemaker of his own.” Joseph was surprised to find that Nicole remembered something about their family.

Nicole was pleased that her “dreams” were indeed actual memories of four people she knew she had loved and who had loved her—memories she had thought were only dreams but memories that had gotten her through her difficult childhood years.

“I don’t want to break up this wonderful reunion, but there is a little more to the story.” Roy wondered what Nicole would think when she found out they were cousins.

“More? What are you talking about?” Nicole sat on the chair that Johnny had pulled up next to Joseph.

“Joseph is my cousin.” Roy had taken the seat across from Nicole and took both of her hands in his. Johnny had taken the seat so that he was seated beside Nicole and put his arm around her shoulders.

“Your cousin? That means that I’m your cousin, too?” Nicole had always wanted someone to call family and now she had one of the most special people in the world to claim as her cousin.

“Yep, we are officially related—we are officially family.” Roy was as thrilled to have his two favorite people really related to him. Nicole was his cousin which made Johnny his cousin-in-law. He couldn’t wait to tell the rest of their ‘family’ the good news.

“We need to celebrate. Today Nicole and I not only found out she will get the transplant she needs, but we are really related to some of our friends that we have always considered to be family.” Johnny was still trying to believe everything that had happened in the last hour or so. He just prayed that he wouldn’t wake up and find out it was just a dream.

“First we need to set up a date for the transplant. I’d like to do it as soon as possible.” Dr. Swan had been quietly watching the interactions between the four people. The fact that they had bonded so quickly was going to be a plus in the recovery of both Joseph and Nicole.

“I’m ready anytime you want to do it, Dr. Swan.” Joseph wanted to help his sister so they could get to know each other like they should have been able to for the last 34 plus years.

“Well, Nicole has had her last round of Chemo and has been feeling good lately, so I say we do it the day after tomorrow if no one has any objections.” The smile on Dr. Swan’s face was duplicated on every other face in the room.

“Day after tomorrow it is.” Johnny was glad he wouldn’t have to ask for the day off. He was on duty the next day and had the following day off. He would ask the B-Shift Captain to come in early so he could be at the hospital when Nicole needed to be there.

“Do you think we can get everyone together for a celebration tonight?” Roy wanted to shout it to the world that he had renewed his relationship with his cousin, he had found a new cousin he never knew he had. And they had a perfect match for Nicole. Their lives had been turned upside down when they had learned of Nicole’s aplastic anemia. But that upside down world now seemed like it was coming out for the better.

“All we can do is try.” Johnny wanted a celebration as much as Roy did.

“While you two are trying to get something together, Dr. Swan, Dixie and I will go over the details of Nicole’s transplant.” Dr. Brackett laughed at the looks on Roy’s and Johnny’s faces as they realized they had forgotten the doctors were still in the room.

“I guess we can wait.” Johnny knew that he should be there for his wife.

“How about you go and help Roy set up the celebration and I’ll go with Nicole to get the details set up? She and I can tell you all the details later.” Joseph wanted to be there for his sister.

“Go ahead, Johnny, go help Roy. We’ll let you know the details later.” Nicole knew that Johnny was torn.

Five minutes later Johnny and Roy were headed to the bank of pay phones to try to get a celebration set up while Joseph and Nicole headed to Dr. Brackett’s office to get the details of the transplant. Dr. Swan followed them while Dixie went to the nurses’ station to reserve the operating rooms that would be needed.


Johnny and Roy were pleased that everyone had been able to gather at the Gage ranch for a party. Roy hadn’t even told Joanne what they were celebrating. All anyone knew was that there were a couple of announcements going to be made that night. As the table was set and food prepared, questions flew right and left. Curiosity grew even greater as a family most of those present didn’t know arrived. Johnny, Roy and Nicole welcomed them. Joanne smiled as she realized who the new family was and soon made her way over to Roy’s side.

Roy had been able to convince his mother to come to the celebration, too. She had met Johnny and Nicole and was happy for them, but wasn’t sure why Roy had insisted she be there. When she saw Joseph and his family walk in, she was pleasantly surprised. But she was sure there was something else going on.

“Ok, Johnny and Roy, you have kept us in the dark long enough. We aren’t going to do any more until we find out what is going on.” Chet had reached his limit. The rest of the group silently sighed with relief that someone had finally voiced the questions that were on all their minds. “What is going on?”

Johnny grinned at Roy as both men received the answer to the question they had both been thinking since people had started to arrive—how long would Chet wait until his curiosity got the better of him.

Seeing the two men still grinning, Nicole turned to the group gathered at the foot of their back porch. She was glad she was on the top step so they could all hear her. “Well Chet, we have someone we would like you all to meet.”

Roy and Johnny knew then they should take over. Roy stepped up beside Nicole bringing Joseph with him. “Everyone, I would like you to meet my cousin, Joseph Dean. And this is his wife, Valerie and their children—Adam, Diane, and Theresa. They moved to LA about three weeks ago. Joseph is a member of the LA City Fire Department.”

“Hi, it’s nice to meet all of you. Welcome to LA.” And other greetings came from all directions as Joanne welcomed the family.

“But there’s more, isn’t there?” Mike had worked with both Johnny and Roy long enough to know that there was something else going on.

“Well, yeah, there is, Mike.” Johnny shook his head when he realized how well the original six crew members knew each other. He waited a few seconds while the group quieted down and then pulled Nicole into his embrace. “Joseph heard about the drive that Chet had gotten underway to try to find a donor for Nicole. We have to thank Chet for that. Because of him Joseph and several other members of the LA City Fire Department were tested. Dr. Swan told us today that Joseph is a perfect match for Nicole. The transplant is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.”

Cheers went up from everyone and Johnny was sure they had broken the sound barrier. The grins on his and Roy’s faces couldn’t have gotten any bigger as they watched the group celebrating. It wasn’t long before Roy, Johnny and Nicole were pulled into embraces from everyone there.

Hank watched a minute as the celebration went on. He noticed that Joseph and Nicole had taken a lull in the celebrating to step to one side. As they embraced, he thought about Johnny’s words--~Joseph is a perfect match for Nicole.~ He wondered about that. When he knew he could be heard above everyone else, he asked Roy and Johnny the question on his mind. “Johnny, you said that Joseph is a perfect match for Nicole. I thought that only happened in families. I know non-family members can be donors, but I didn’t think it could be a perfect match unless it was a family member.”

“You’re right Hank.” Roy watched the faces of his friends as they tried to comprehend what he was saying. “The blood tests Dr. Brackett ran to check compatibility showed that Joseph and Nicole are brother and sister.” Roy’s grin was as big as Johnny’s and Nicole’s as everyone processed what he had just said. Mike was the first one to fully absorb the news.

“Brother and sister—but how?” Mike was thrilled that something good had come out of this whole situation.

For the next 45 minutes Joseph told his story. It took him that long with all the interruptions from Chet.

As the news slowly sank in, everyone made sure they congratulated Johnny, Nicole and Joseph and welcomed the Dean family into the Station 51 family.

Roy’s mother had been shocked when she learned that Joseph and Nicole were brother and sister. She had not been aware of all the details since she had not talked with her brother for a period of ten years. When they had made up at her husband’s funeral, Harriet DeSoto had heard the rumors of a little girl that had disappeared. But nothing was ever said and she had thought it was just that—rumors. It was with a feeling she hadn’t experienced since her husband died that Harriet hugged not only Joseph and his family, but Nicole and Johnny as well.


Johnny was surprised to see all of the original Station 51 family show up at the hospital to wait with him—even Harriet DeSoto was there. Joanne told him that the wives of his crew members were at the Gage ranch taking care of the Gage children.

Joseph’s wife, Valerie, was in the waiting room, too. Johnny sent up a silent prayer of thanks for his family and their support. Seeing that Valerie was alone at the moment, Johnny walked over and put his arm around her shoulders. “How are you doing?”

“I think I should be asking you that question. Johnny, Joseph was so happy to find out that his sister was still alive. Her disappearance has weighed heavily upon him ever since it happened no matter how hard he tried not to think about it. Both of us are thrilled that he is able to do this and from the short time we have spent together, we both know that you and Nicole are two very special people. As for the answer to your question, I’m doing fine. How are your nerves?”

“They are letting me know they are there. I just hope that somehow Nicole and I can let you both know what this means to us. No matter what happens, we appreciate your willingness to try.”

“It means a lot to us, too. Can you tell me a little more about Nicole and her life? I know it wasn’t pleasant, but I really want to know so we can be there to help emotionally as Nicole recuperates.”

Johnny led Valerie over to two chairs sitting in one of the corners to tell her what he knew. “Thanks, I know it will help a lot.”


Thankful for Joseph’s willingness to help one of their favorite people, Dixie, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early had joined the harvest/transplant teams. Dixie had been the one to start Joseph’s IV. Joseph had grimaced even though Dixie was being as careful as she could. To take his mind off the large bore needle she had to use, Joseph realized the pain was all worth it because he was doing it for his sister. His sister—he hadn’t been able to say that for years. The smile that graced his face from the moment he found out that Nicole was his sister was still firmly planted on his face.

His thoughts turned to his brother and father. He hadn’t had an opportunity to call them yet. He wanted to find out if the transplant was going to work or not before he called them. When Nicole was feeling up to it, Joseph wanted to take her and Johnny to meet the family Nicole had thought was only made up in her dreams to help her though some difficult times. He couldn’t wait to see the looks on his father’s and Alex’s faces when he introduced them to Nicole. But the one question he didn’t have an answer to yet was who kidnapped Nicole when she was two.

Joseph’s thoughts were pulled back to what was going on around him when he heard Dr. Swan’s voice, “We are ready to begin. Are you ready?”

Joseph’s “let’s get this show on the road” resounded as his eyes welled up with tears. He had the opportunity to do something for the sister he had thought he had lost over 35 years ago. As he drifted off to sleep, he heard the laughter of the medical staff in the room. The last thing he remembered was hearing Dixie’s voice as she patted his shoulder—“You are a good man, Joseph, and everything is going to turn out alright. You and Nicole are going to have many years together to show each other how much you love each other.”


Nicole was spending her waiting time praying for the procedure she knew had just begun on the floor below her. She had just found her family and didn’t want to lose any of them. She knew that there wasn’t too much risk in the procedure, but she worried just the same. There was a lot she knew they had to catch up on and she was looking forward to meeting her father, Alex and his family. It was something she had dreamed of all her life—having a loving, carrying, “real” family. Now that family was within her grasp.
Nicole looked up as Johnny entered the room. She chuckled at the way he looked. He was completely gowned up because she was in isolation to prevent her from getting sick before the transplant. A central venous line had been inserted into Nicole’s chest just above her heart so she could get the drugs and blood products without the nurses having to keep poking her arms and hands with needles. “How’s Joseph?” She wanted to get her mind off the central line as well as what lay ahead.
“ They just started harvesting Joseph’s bone marrow. Everything is going very smoothly and Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early and Dixie scrubbed in to be there with him and they will be there with you. Roy had agreed to stay with Valerie and will join her at Joseph’s bedside when he gets out of the recovery room. It is just a few more hours and, God willing, we will have beaten this thing.”

Nicole had known that this had all been hard on Johnny, but it wasn’t until he made his last statement that she realized how hard. The look in his eyes and the tone of his voice let her know that he had been preparing himself for her death to happen at anytime. He had kept a positive attitude around her but she knew now how much he had kept hidden from her. “Everything is going to be fine, honey. We are going to grow old together and sit on our back porch in rocking chairs watching our grandchildren and great-grandchildren running through the backyard.”

Johnny walked over and pulled his wife into his arms. The strength the couple received from each other made them know that everything would be alright—no matter what happened.


Johnny was not allowed to be in the room while Nicole was going through the transplant because of the fact they were going to have to check her frequently for signs of fever, chills, hives and chest pains during the infusion. Johnny knew when it was all over the real wait would begin.

Johnny joined Roy at Joseph’s bedside when Joseph was returned to his room after the bone marrow harvest. Joanne had taken Valerie and Harriet down to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee and leave the three men alone. Roy and Johnny were answering all of Joseph’s questions about Nicole and her childhood. As they talked, all three men were sure that what Nicole had told Johnny was probably not even half of what she had really gone through, but what they did know was really bad enough. They all marveled that she had lived through that and had turned out so strong.

Joseph felt the pain inside as he listened to all Johnny had to say. Nicole had suffered so much. The hatred for the couple who had kidnapped her and treated her so terribly boiled up inside of him. If all they wanted to do was hurt her, why did they kidnap her in the first place? The feeling of relief that he felt when Johnny told him the couple had been killed in a car accident almost made him ashamed of himself—almost. He figured the answer as to why they kidnapped her would never be discovered. As he thought of Nicole, he sent up a silent prayer that the transplant would work. Developing the relationship he had never got a chance to form with her was his greatest wish right now.

Valerie, Harriet and Joanne had joined the men and were talking quietly when Dr. Swan, Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early and Dixie entered the room. Johnny was on his feet as soon as he realized who the newcomers were. “How is Nicole?”

“Johnny, everything went ‘by the book’ and Nicole is in isolation. She is sleeping right now, but we have made arrangements for you to be by her side as long as you follow all the isolation precautions.” Dr. Swan had never been happier that things had gone so smoothly with a transplant before. He could tell that all of these people were special.

“Can I see her? I know you said she was asleep, but I really want to be with her.” Johnny wanted to see for himself that Nicole was ok.
“ Yes, but I need to tell you all what to expect. This experience has been physically, emotionally and psychologically taxing for all of you, but Nicole is going to have a hard time coping with this. She is the one who has been worrying about what the future holds and now isn’t sure whether or not this transplant will take. She will experience nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and extreme weakness for several weeks. Walking, sitting up in bed for long periods, reading, talking on the phone, visiting with friends and even watching TV are going to require a lot of her energy—many times more energy than she has. She shouldn’t try to ‘tough it out’ on her own which she may try to do to spare all of you. We will also need to keep an eye on her to watch for complications.”
“ What types of complications are we talking about?” Johnny wanted to be prepared to help Nicole get through this.
“ Infection, bleeding, graft-versus-host disease, or liver disease—but we can control her pain with medication. She may develop mouth sores which will make eating and swallowing uncomfortable. There may be times when she has periods of temporary mental confusion. If this happens, it will be quite frightening if she doesn’t realize it's only temporary. But that what the staff is here for—to help in any way we can. So, no matter how physically, emotionally or psychologically taxed you feel, you are going to need to be there for her. Let her know she doesn’t have to be tough and that it is alright to ask for help and depend on others.”
“ Dr. Swan, thank you for everything you have done so far—and thanks for the support you and your staff have given. I am so grateful that we have someone to help all of us through this. Can I go see Nicole now?”
“ Sure, let’s go.” Dr. Swan knew that Johnny would want to see his wife immediately. He had seen how much the couple loved each other over the months Nicole had been receiving treatment. That is why he had already made arrangements for Johnny to be with her as much as he wanted to be.

“Johnny, tell her we all love her.” Joseph smiled at how fast Johnny was at the door. Roy had told him that Johnny and Nicole were soulmates, but actually watching them over the last few days, he knew what Roy had been trying to tell him.

Johnny stopped just as he pulled the door open. “You bet I will, Joseph. And, thanks—this wouldn’t be possible without you.”

“Just get out of here, will you already?” Joseph threw his pillow at Johnny to keep things from getting too emotional.

Johnny ducked and shut the door just before the pillow hit. He was laughing all the way to Nicole’s room. After carefully going through all the isolation precautions Dr. Swan gave him, Johnny made his way to Nicole’s side. Taking her hand in his, he settled in the chair someone had placed beside her bed and smiled as he watched her sleep.


Joseph was lost in thought as the group had congregated in his room to wait for Johnny to come back to tell them how Nicole was. Noticing Joseph was not paying attention to what was going on around him, Roy slipped over to Joseph’s beside. “Are you ok, Joseph?”

Joseph was startled at the sound of Roy’s voice. “Oh, Roy, yeah, I’m ok. I was just thinking about Nicole and wondered who would want to kidnap her just to beat her and abuse her the way they did. If they really didn’t want her, why kidnap her in the first place?”

“I don’t know, Joseph. I have been asking that same question ever since you told us she was kidnapped. I know that Johnny hasn’t had time to really wonder because of everything that has been going on with Nicole.”

“Yeah, I know. I was just thinking about how my brother and father are going to feel when they find out what type of life she had. I was going to wait to call them in a few weeks when I knew how Nicole was doing, but I changed my mind. I don’t know how Johnny is going to take this, but I am going to call them right now so they can be here and help Nicole through this too. If for some reason the transplant doesn’t work, they have the right of at least knowing she is alive and getting to spend a little time with her.”

“I’m sure Johnny would agree with you. It is only right they have the chance to come and meet Nicole for themselves.” Roy patted Joseph on the shoulder and turned to the rest of the group. “I think we should move this gathering to the waiting room and let Joseph get some rest.” Roy knew Joseph wanted to call his father as soon as possible. As the group moved out the door, Roy was the last one to leave. “Good luck, Joseph.”

As Roy closed the door, Valerie moved the phone to the bed table so Joseph could easily reach it. She pulled the chair closer to the bed and took his left hand in hers as he dialed a familiar number.


Joseph hadn’t told his brother or his father everything when he called them. He just asked if they could come to LA for a couple of days. He let them know he was in the hospital overnight and he had a surprise for them. He said he would explain everything when they arrived. He wasn’t surprised when they showed up in his hospital room four hours later. Johnny had stopped in Joseph’s room before going to the waiting room to let the others know how Nicole was doing three hours ago. Joseph had slept for a little while but he was getting really restless. He, like Johnny, was one who did not like hospitals and couldn’t wait to be released. When his father and his brother walked in, the smile on his face grew wide.

“Hi, Alex. Hi, Dad. How are you guys?” Joseph was so excited about the surprise he was about to spring on his family he could hardly stay in bed.

“Just what are you doing in here? What is going on? Are you sick?” Richard Dean had been worrying about his son from the moment he had received Joseph’s phone call.

“Yeah, bro—what’s going on?” Alex was as worried as his father.

“Nothing’s wrong with me. I donated bone marrow to a fellow firefighter’s wife. I just have to stay overnight.”

“But why all the secrecy? Why didn’t you just tell us that on the phone? Why did we have to come all the way up here?” Richard was wondering why Joseph had a Cheshire cat grin on his face.

Just at that moment Johnny and Roy came walking into the room. Johnny hadn’t noticed the two newcomers. “Joseph, I just thought I’d come to see how you were doing and give you an update.”

“Is something wrong?” Joseph had noticed the worried look on Johnny’s face.

“Nothing that we hadn’t already anticipated--the doctor kicked me out of her room while he checked her over. She is experiencing the nausea and vomiting and is running a fever like Dr. Swan warned us about.”

“Is she going to be alright?” Alex had figured out that Johnny was the husband of the lady Joseph donated bone marrow to.

Johnny was startled by Alex’s voice. “Yes, Dr. Swan had warned us about some of the symptoms she would be experiencing. I was just hoping and praying she would be spared them.”

“Johnny, this is my brother, Alex, and my father, Richard Dean.” Joseph was antsy now that the time for springing his surprise was at hand.

“Hi, I’m Johnny Gage.” Johnny wasn’t sure if Joseph had told them yet that Nicole was related, so he decided to take his cues from Joseph. He figured out that Joseph hadn’t said anything yet.

“Hi, Alex. Hi, Uncle Richard. When did you guys get here?” Roy hadn’t seen the two men either, but wasn’t surprised they had come so fast. From what Joseph had told him, he wasn’t going to tell them about Nicole until they arrived.

“Dad, Alex, the reason I didn’t tell you that I was donating bone marrow because I wanted you to come here. I wanted you to meet Johnny and his wife—the lady I donated my marrow to. Johnny, will you show them a picture of her?”

Richard was thoroughly confused as he reached out to take the picture Johnny was handing him. He sank into the chair that was thankfully right next to him when he saw the lady smiling back at him from the photo. He was transported back to another time—he was seeing the face of his wife. This lady looked so much like her. No wonder Joseph wanted them to meet her. They say that everyone has a twin and Richard was seeing his wife’s twin.

“Dad, when the lab technician did the testing, he found something that made him run some other tests. What he found out was that Nicole is our ‘peanut’. She is our sister—your daughter.” Joseph watched his father and brother’s faces as they tried to comprehend what he had just said.

Richard’s head snapped up when he heard Nicole’s name. “Nicole? Our little one? She’s alive?” Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His daughter was alive—the daughter he had lost over 30 years ago and thought he would never see again. But when he repeated Nicole’s name a shiver went down the three Dean men’s spines. It was then they realized that whoever had kidnapped her knew her. They had kept her name Nicole. If they had been strangers and asked her what her name was, she would have said peanut. After all—that was the only thing they called her and being only two, she thought her name was peanut. But who did they know that would have done such a thing? It explained why Nicole didn’t scream or fight—she didn’t like being away from her family. The only way she would have gone willingly was if she knew the people.

As the three Dean men looked at each other, they could see that they were all thinking the same thing.

Johnny was heading home to see his kids. He wanted to do as Nicole had asked him to do. She had made him promise to go home and give all the kids a hug for her. “Mr. Dean, where are you and Alex staying?”

“Please call me Richard or even Dad since I am your father-in-law. Wow, I never thought I would be able to say I had a son-in-law. Anyway, we were so worried about Joseph we came straight here. Could you recommend a good hotel?” Richard already liked his son-in-law.

“Well, Dad, I would like both of you to come with me to the ranch. After all, you have eight grandchildren you need to meet.” Johnny knew he was going to like his in-laws. “You won’t be able to see Nicole until tomorrow anyway.”

“Eight—you have eight kids?” Alex thought three were a handful.

“Well, we actually had ten. But in May, 1984, our two oldest twins were kidnapped and killed by the baby doll killer.” Johnny’s voice had softened to a whisper by the time he had finished. The pain of Melanie and Melinda’s deaths was still there—he still missed them so much. Roy put his arm around his “brother’s” shoulders to let him know he was there.

“That’s where I heard the name Gage before—I didn’t put two and two together.” They had all heard about the “baby doll” killer since it had made national news. But Joseph hadn’t even thought about the families that had suffered.

“Yeah, I think I want to go home and hug my kids.” Thinking about the twins had made Johnny want to see and feel his kids.

“Johnny, I’m sorry.” Alex hadn’t meant to cause his new brother-in-law pain.

“It’s ok, Alex. You didn’t have any idea.” Johnny’s smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Johnny, will you tell us about Nicole and her life. I know you probably want to get home, but I would really like to learn about my daughter’s life.” Richard wanted to learn about the daughter he had longed to hold for over 30 years.

“Ok, there are some things that have happened since Nicole and I were married that we haven’t even told Joseph yet so I think now would be a good time to ‘introduce’ your daughter to you and it would be better to do it here rather than with the kids around.”

Roy and Johnny made sure everyone had a chair and started telling them about Nicole’s childhood and all the events that had transpired from the time he had met her.

There wasn’t a sound in the room when Johnny finished telling Nicole’s family about her life. He had made sure to tell them about all the good things that had happened as well as the bad. He wanted them to know how special Nicole really was.

Roy could see how much talking about Nicole and all they had gone through was affecting Johnny. “Johnny, she’s going to be ok.” Roy knew Johnny’s thoughts had returned to Nicole and how sick she was. “She is a fighter and has everything to live for.”

“I know, Roy. But sometimes even fighters lose the fight. But it will be alright—God is in control.” Johnny pulled himself out of the deep well of dark thoughts he had been thinking. No matter what happened, everything would be alright. “Dad, Alex, are you ready to go meet the rest of the Gage family?” Johnny noticed that Joseph was getting tired and knew he really needed his rest.

“If my nieces and nephews are anything like their father and mother, I know I will love them the second I lay eyes on them. I’m ready.” Alex was overwhelmed when he realized a little sister he had thought he would never see again was once more a huge part of his life.

“I’d like to meet my grandkids. Now I can spoil them, too.” Richard was still in shock that his daughter was indeed alive after over 30 years.

“You both will love Nicole. Although it had been over 30 years, she is still our Nicole. She is a very special person as is Johnny here and their kids are going to be just like them. I just wish Mom could have met Nicole and her grandkids.” Joseph finally lost the fight to stay awake.

“Valerie, take good care of him. We’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll give Adam, Diane and Theresa a hug and a kiss from both of you.” Johnny leaned over and gave his sister-in-law a kiss on the cheek.

As the four men were leaving Joseph’s hospital room, Johnny thought of something that he felt sure would be beneficial for all of them. “How about we stop by Nicole’s room before we leave? We can’t go in, but we can look through the observation window they have for her. I’m sure you would like to see her yourselves.” Johnny wanted to reunite Nicole with her father and second brother, even if it they had to have a glass window between them.

“Let’s go. I never thought I would see my daughter again. Now, being just a few feet away from her, I can’t believe this is really happening.” Richard was already at the door. He had to see her with his own eyes before he could let himself really believe that Nicole was alive.


Johnny and Roy stood back against the wall as Richard and Alex pressed as closed to the window looking into Nicole’s room as they could. Johnny wondered what Richard and Alex were thinking and feeling. He tried to put himself in their place. He couldn’t quite picture it. After all, his daughters had been killed and there was no way he would see them again—at least here on earth. But he knew how he and Nicole had felt those weeks wondering what was happening to their daughters and praying they would come home. Richard had been doing that some thing for 30 years. And now his prayers had been answered.

Johnny turned at the sound of footsteps heading their way. He smiled at the three medical personnel. “Hi, Doc, Dix, Dr. Swan—I have someone I would like all of you to meet.” Richard and Alex turned around at the sound of Johnny’s voice. “This is Richard and Alex Dean—Nicole’s father and brother.”

Roy couldn’t help but smile as he watched Dr. Brackett and Dixie greet the two men. Then he listened as Dr. Swan brought them all up to date on Nicole’s condition. Nicole’s temperature had returned to normal and her nausea and vomiting were being controlled by medicine. Currently she was resting and had been given something to help her sleep through the night. It was still early—she had just had the transplant—but things were looking promising and the four men left feeling very encouraged that Nicole would pull through. Little did they know things were going to take a turn for the worse.


Roy had laughed at Johnny as all eight kids ran at him as soon as he entered the door. They ganged up on him and soon all of them were on the floor rolling around and tickling each other. Alex and Richard smiled at the scene before them. It wasn’t hard to see how much Johnny loved his kids.

Richard watched as Johnny was first rough housing it with his kids on the floor and then surrounded by all eight kids on the couch. He was patiently and honestly answering the questions his kids were asking about their mother and what was happening. He listened as Johnny explained in terms all the kids could understand the procedures their mother and new uncle had gone through. He listened as Johnny patiently told the kids what to expect when their mother came home. And Mayan was right in the middle with his hands going a mile a minute.

Johnny was leaning against the kitchen doorframe watching his children as they ate their bedtime snack. He was thinking about how much he loved his family and was wondering what it would be like if Nicole didn’t make it.

Richard walked up behind his son-in-law and placed his hand on Johnny’s right shoulder. “They are great kids, Johnny. You and Nicole have done a great job raising them.”

“Thanks. We can’t picture our lives without them.” Johnny was proud of his family.

“Can I ask you a question?” Richard had wondered why Johnny would begin to talk to his kids about what to expect when Nicole came home. She wasn’t scheduled to be released for several weeks yet.


“Nicole won’t be coming home for several weeks. Why did you talk to the kids about it tonight? Won’t it just make them keep asking about when she will be home?”

Johnny understood Richard’s concerns. “Well, Nicole and I have always believed in answering any question one of our kids asks as honestly and completely as we can. Mayan will turn eleven in August, the quadruplets turn seven in October and the triplets turn five in November. They understand that it will be awhile before Nicole comes home. As Mayan said, they will use the time to divide the chores and work to do everything they can to get the place ready and to learn how to take precautions to protect Nicole when she does come home. They are only 4, 6 and 10, but sometimes I think they are wiser than I am.”

Thinking about the type of role models Johnny and Nicole had to learn their parenting skills, both Richard and Alex were amazed at the type of parents Nicole and Johnny were. Richard found himself wishing Nicole’s mother had lived to find out Nicole was still alive and to see what a wonderful person she had turned out to be.

Richard and Alex were thrilled when the kids asked if they would put them to bed with Johnny. As they went through the process of getting everyone into bed, it was as if they had known and loved them all their lives. The 30-year gap had been washed away as if it had never existed. There were things they would still need to learn about each other, but they loved each other and nothing would change that.


It had been three days since Nicole’s transplant. Everything seemed to be going very well. Yes, she had the pain, the nausea and vomiting that they had been warned about, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. She had been using her stay in the hospital to rest as the transplant had left her very weak.

Johnny was talking with Joseph, Alex and Richard as they headed down the hallway towards Nicole’s room. It wasn’t until he heard Dixie’s voice calling him that he realized Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early and Dixie were with Dr. Swan outside of Nicole’s room.

“Hi, docs, Dixie. How are all of you today?” Johnny was always happy to see three of his favorite people.

“We are all doing well, Johnny, but we need to talk to you about Nicole.” Dr. Brackett had been elected to talk to Johnny when he arrived.

“What about Nicole? Is something wrong?” Johnny was starting to get very upset. But he calmed down a little when he felt Roy’s hand on his shoulder. A small smile graced his lips when he saw who it was.

“Let’s all go into the waiting room where we can sit down and talk.” Dr. Brackett walked on the left side of Johnny as Roy walked on the right side with his hand still on Johnny’s shoulder. By the time they reached the waiting room, Joanne, and Hank and Emily Stanley had joined the group.

Dr. Swan took the responsibility of delivering the news that wasn’t very good. “Johnny, Nicole has picked up two infections. One is a staph infection, which in itself is bad enough; one of our student nurses had a cold and didn’t put gloves on when she was working with Nicole. She said she was only taking her vitals so she didn’t take the time to put on gloves. Now Nicole has an upper respiratory tract infection, too. We caught the staph infection early, so we feel that the antibiotics we are using will be effective almost immediately. As for the upper respiratory tract infection, we will be using cooling measures to bring her fever down. For right now, we cannot allow her any visitors and we will be keeping her contact with hospital personnel to a minimum. We have moved her to a room closer to the nurses’ station. You can see her through the window. I’m sorry I can’t let you in, Johnny. I know you really want to be with her, but this really is for the best for now.”

Johnny was in shock. Just last night she was doing better. Now she had two infections. He knew that the situation was bad. “I want to see her. Is she awake?”

“She has been sleeping most of the time, but I believe she is awake now. She is worried about how this is going to affect all of you and about what the future holds. I think she is worried about you and the kids, Johnny.” Dr. Swan knew how much these two people really loved each other and put the other’s needs first.


As Johnny stood outside the hospital room that housed his wife, he was praying with all his heart. The other half of him was lying in the hospital bed and he would be lost without her.

Hank and Emily were quietly talking with the Deans as Joanne and Roy made their way to be by Johnny’s side.

“She’s a fighter, Johnny, just like you. She won’t go down without giving it all she has.” Roy knew now was not the time for false pat answers. None of them, including the doctors, knew what the future would hold and now was the time for the truth, not what everyone hoped for.

“And she has everything to live for—she has you and your children. Just before we found out Joseph was a match and would be a donor, she told me that she would do whatever it took to stay with all of you as long as possible.” Joanne pulled Johnny into her arms as he started to tremble.

“Plus she now has a father, two brothers and their families to get to know better.” Roy prayed that Nicole would beat this.

“I know, but it hurts so much. She has had to go through so much in her life. Why does she have to go through this now?” Johnny fought the tears that were threatening to spill down his cheeks.

“Johnny, Nicole is looking this way. I think she’s looking for you.” Roy saw Nicole turn her head towards the large window when the nurse told her Johnny was in the hall.

Johnny pulled himself together and leaned against the window. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he saw Nicole’s eyes light up when she finally focused on him.

Dixie had volunteered to work an additional shift and be Nicole’s nurse. She was in the room with Nicole. “He loves you very much, Nicole.”

“I know, Dixie. How is he really holding up? Is he handling this ok?”

“He’s worried about you. His main concern is that you get better. He’s really ok. But there is somebody else he wants you to meet.”

Nicole turned to the window and saw two men she didn’t know standing with Roy, Joanne, Johnny and the Stanleys. “Who are they, Dixie?”

“It’s your father and your other brother, Alex.”

The smile on Nicole’s face grew even wider. “Well, I guess I’d better get well fast so I can get to know them.” With that Nicole slipped into a deep healing sleep.


Nicole’s fever got higher before it finally broke three days later. Johnny and her father were at the window for the full three days. And they were the first two visitors allowed to see her.

The four weeks Nicole spent in the hospital her emotional state as well as her pain level fluctuated as Dr. Swan had warned them. When she reached her lowest point, Johnny and Richard were there to encourage her and bring her spirits up. Johnny’s hand was sore from when he told her to squeeze during the times the pain was too great. She was there to encourage her family and friends when they reached their lowest times. Through it all, Richard was amazed at the closeness of this group and the strength of their friendship.

Richard had stayed at the ranch with Johnny after Alex had returned to his family and work. He was amazed at the 51 family and the plans they had made to help Johnny and Nicole when she came home. He knew the kids were not going to feel left out. Their ideas had been listened to and included in the plans the group made.

It had been decided that the Gage kids would stay with the DeSotos and Richard and Harriet would stay with Johnny and Nicole so someone would be with her while Johnny was working. The kids would get to visit Nicole every third day during the first two weeks with the schedule being adjusted as she regained her strength.

So the day Nicole came home, there was a large crowd to meet her. They lined the sidewalk as she was wheeled up the ramp that Johnny had built and into the house. Knowing she was going to have to be isolated for a few more months, the group called their good wishes to her as she passed them. With a quick hug and kiss through her mask for all her children, Nicole’s eyes smiled as they entered the house. She sat in the doorway and waved as her children each blew her a kiss and grabbed the hand of the adult next to them as they walked through the field between the Gage and DeSoto homes.


Nicole had been home for two weeks and was gaining her strength back on a daily basis. It helped to have Richard and Harriet there to make sure she didn’t overdo anything. Richard’s mind had wandered back to the day Nicole had disappeared. He was so lost in thought, he didn’t realize Nicole was sitting next to him until she laid her hand on his arm and said his name for the fourth time.

“Sorry. I was lost in thought.” Richard smiled. He was still getting used to the idea that Nicole was really alive.

“I could tell. Can I ask you what you were thinking about?”

“The day you disappeared—I was wondering who would kidnap you and then treat you like they did.”

“I have been thinking about that, too. I don’t know why they treated me like they did, but there is something that bothered me even when I was younger. Just a minute—I want to get something. I’ll be right back.”

When Nicole came back, Johnny was with her and was carrying a photo album. Nicole sat next to her father and Johnny sat next to her draping his arm over her shoulder as she took the album and opened it.

Nicole didn’t have any happy memories of her childhood, so hadn’t wanted many pictures of her parents. But she did have a couple—after all, they were her parents. Or so she had been led to believe. As she opened the album to the page with the only pictures she had, she heard Richard’s gasp. He was looking at pictures of two people he had thought had been killed just before Nicole was kidnapped.

No one had realized that Harriet DeSoto had walked up behind the group and was looking over Richard and Nicole’s shoulders. “That’s George and Louise.”

Richard looked at his sister. “Yes, it is. I knew that Nicole had to know the couple that took her. She wouldn’t go with anyone she didn’t know.”

“But you said they were killed in that car accident in June, 1954.”

“Well, someone must have mistaken. That is the man and woman who raised me. I kept thinking of them as someone I may have known but not as my parents, but they insisted they were my parents. Eventually, like the memories of JJ and Alex, I believed the two people I thought of as my parents were just dreams. After about the age of 7, even those dreams were killed by the actions of my parents. You both know them?”

“Yes, Louise was our sister. She was raped by George when they were teenagers. Instead of being angry with him, she ran off and married him. There was an argument between our parents and Louise and she disappeared for awhile. When Mom and Dad died within six moths of each other from heart attacks, she showed up and caused the rift between the two of us over our parents’ estate even though we both knew what Mom and Dad had really wanted. When Harriet moved to L.A., we lost contact. However, Louise was right there and kept things stirred up by always blaming Harriet for the rift between us. Finally, I got so aggravated with her actions and attitudes that I told her that my relationship with Harriet was none of her business. When she wouldn’t let it go, I told her I didn’t want to see her for awhile. The next thing I knew the police were at my door telling me George and Louise were killed in a car accident.”

Nicole turned to the back of album and pulled out an envelope that she had never opened. She had forgotten all about it until she had heard the story her father had to tell. Pulling it out, she looked at the two names on the envelope—Richard in the center and Louise where the return address would normally be—and handed it to her father. At the time she had found it, she had no idea who Richard was and had not even opened the envelope to find out.

Richard looked at the envelope and then at Nicole. Opening the envelope, he pulled out the two sheets of paper that were inside. Silently he read the words written in his sister, Louise’s, handwriting. “I didn’t know she hated us that much.”

“What do you mean Richard? What did she say?”

“She said that she wasn’t sorry for the way that she and George treated Nicole. It turns out that the ‘cousins’ that were a part of Nicole’s childhood, were really teenagers that lived in the neighborhood who were later arrested for armed robbery and murder. She said that it was too bad that Nicole was the one who had to pay for what she believed was our mistreatment of her. Because you and I were against her marrying George and her decision not to press charges, she wanted to get back at us. Then when we both had children and she was unable to because of the damage done when George raped her, her anger got stronger at us instead of at George. She thought that she had begun to be successful when we had that argument at Dad’s funeral and your family moved to L.A. Then when I said something about how George was treating her and that I didn’t want her to say any more against you, she got angrier. It was George’s idea to fake their death and then kidnap Nicole. They had plans to come after Roy, but your husband died and we reconciled before that could happen. Also, they had to keep moving to prevent anyone from finding out about their treatment of Nicole and who she really was. It seems that a Mrs. Kanton, one of Nicole’s teachers, was starting to question all of Nicole’s injuries. Somehow that suspicion followed them everywhere they moved.”

“I wondered why Mrs. Kanton kept asking to talk to my parents. They always found a reason not to meet with her.”

“There is even a paragraph that outlines some plans they had to kill Nicole and Roy together. But thankfully they were killed before they could carry out those plans. Her last statement was that she felt you got everything you deserved and that we had no right to be happy. Her feeling was that Nicole didn’t deserve to be born and wasn’t worth the air she breathed. But Louise and George felt it was their duty to teach her where her place in this world was. Nicole, I am so sorry.”

“Dad, it’s ok. You had no way of knowing and thought they had been killed before I even disappeared. As a matter of fact, I know that the report of the accident that killed them said witnesses claimed they were chasing another car honking their horn the whole time. George lost control of the car and flipped it. One of the teachers at school had asked me to stay after school and discuss a paper that I had written, or I would have been in the car with them. I think George was angry that I had stayed at school. They were on their way to pick me up and he took all his anger out on the cars and drivers around him. I was a senior in college at the time and ended up staying with a friend until I got a job. Then I met Tim Donaldson. You know the rest.”

“Well, they didn’t destroy the wonderful person you are and they didn’t get the opportunity to hurt me, so I think we can put this all to rest.” Roy and Joanne had stopped by to see how everyone was doing. They had arrived in time to hear the part of the letter that said they had planned to go after Roy, too.

“I agree.” Richard took the letter he held in his hand, tore it into tiny pieces and threw them into the fire in the fireplace. “We are all together now and have a wonderful future to look forward to.

After a few minutes of everyone gaining control of their emotions, there was an agreement made that the incident would not be discussed ever again. It was in the past and that was where it would stay. But none of them would forget that something that had started out as potentially devastating ended up turning their world upside down for the better.


April, 1988

Johnny sat at the desk in his office at Station 51 thinking about how the lives of the members of the first Station 51 A-shift had changed. And now their lives were going to change again. Hank had been promoted to Dean of students at the fire academy and continued to turn out very capable firefighters. Johnny, Roy and Mike had all passed the Battalion Chief’s exam and Marco and Chet had passed their Captain’s exam. In two weeks, Chet would take over as Captain of Station 51; Macro would replace Roy at Station 14; Mike would become Battalion 14 Chief; Roy would become Battalion 10 Chief and Johnny was being assigned to work with the arson squad and headquarters. The work Johnny had done with the arson squad had spread throughout the County. He was in demand to work with other arson teams in other counties and with the City of L.A. It had surprised even him how much he enjoyed it.

His reverie was broken by the ringing phone. “Station 51, Captain Gage speaking.” The words almost stuck in his throat when he realized that he wouldn’t be saying them very much longer.

“Hey, Captain Gage.” Roy was having the same trouble as Johnny when he realized that it would be in just a couple of weeks that he would be calling him Chief Gage.

To be continued in Wrong Place, Wrong Time

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