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"Johnny you have 15 minutes till you need to leave," she called as she went into the bedroom. She could hear the blow dryer shutting off. His hair was still damp as he came out of the bathroom. He was shaking it so it would fall in place. "Hank is gonna be on you to get a haircut soon …There's a sandwich and a glass of milk waiting for you on the counter…"
He kissed her lightly. "I haven't had latrine duty in a month…Thanks to you…." He went to the kitchen while she finished getting dressed. He was finishing his sandwich as she came out into the kitchen.
"Yep…Don't forget the picnic basket by the door…" They talked about the plans for the day as they rode the elevator down. He went over to her car and waited as she transferred into the mustang then put the chair into the back.
"Love you…have a great day and be safe…all of you." Lee said.
"I will …and you have a good day too…Maybe I can see ya later…" A quick kiss and he was in his Rover and gone. She watched him drive off and as always said a prayer for his safety and all of Station 51 in particular and all the fire and police personnel in general.
It was a nice neighborhood and few neighbors they had met seemed really friendly. At first Jacob had been sad that his son was not marrying a nice Jewish girl…But his wife Anna had reminded him love was a gift from God and if God had chosen Thanh for Samuel then who were they to object? The lovely young woman was as kind and gentle as she was lovely.
In Viet Nam she had been going to the university to be a doctor until the war had changed all that. She and her sisters had came to America to live with their father's old friends when their parents had decided it was no longer safe for them in their mother's home country.
It turned out to be the right decision as their hospital and school was destroyed and the parents left homeless when a major battle took place in their city. Thanh had continued her education at UCLA. Now she was a pediatrician at Rampart General and Sam a sheriff for LA County.
One sister was in New York and the oldest had returned to Viet Nam to help her parents at the rebuilt hospital and school.
Captain Hank Stanley smiled as he saw John Gage come into the Station with a picnic basket. That meant Lee had been baking and sent them something to go with the morning coffee.
The six months since the wedding had went by quickly and thankfully with only a few minor injuries to the youngest crew member. There had been some concern how she would react but she had done fine. Of course she had a great support system in Jo, Em and Melissa and her oldest friend Kathy as well as the Alvarez family. Hank poured himself a cup of coffee.
"John, she keeps cooking like that even you may gain weight." Hank said with a laugh. "Lee must have had an early morning meeting…"
"She has one at 9 but since she didn't work yesterday she needed to go in and get ready for it…We spent the day just hanging around after she finished baking the bread. Maria and Hector came up for dinner and Maria told her the dumplings were perfect…Lee hadn't made them before… Johnny looked up as Roy and Mike came in. "Hi guys…Lee sent food."
"Good it's my day to cook I think…" Roy said as he poured a cup of coffee. "Do you realize Chet hasn't gotten you with a water bomb in 3 weeks?"
"Geez, Roy you trying to jinx me?" He frowned and Roy laughed. "Lee said she wants to have a meeting of the advisory board soon. She has some ideas and concerns …The request for input from all the teams has gotten some good responses…a few jerks thought they were being funny."
Marco and Chet came in and quickly went into get changed. For a change, Marco came into roll call last. Roy smiled when Cap gave him cooking and Chet and Marco groaned.
"Roy's making mashed potatoes for dinner, they'll be really good…" Johnny said dead serious. "So you better be nice."…Before they could say anything else the SCU them toned out.
After her meeting Lee went down to the ER to see Dixie. She needed to check on when it would be good to schedule the next meeting. She tried to work around Dixie and Kel's schedule as much as possible but still manage to keep the meetings on days when Johnny and Roy were on shift. After looking over their calendar and schedules they found a date they thought would work for all.
"Lee," Dr. Thanh called as she came around the corner. Although Thanh was her first name the young doctor answered to it. The parents and children she dealt with had started calling her that and now most did. "Do you have a minute?"
"Of course…" She smiled as her friend came hurrying over to her. "You look happy."
"Sam and I went to see your friends Nana and the Hogan’s…we've got a place for the wedding and flowers. Of course it will be nothing like your wedding but I think for us it will be perfect."
"Of course it will be… isn't Nana something special? She sent me the nicest note thanking us for all the people who have came into the shop saying they were at the wedding and loved the flowers. If there is anything more I can do…Sam said you were going to use the house in Hawaii, I know you'll love that."
"We will…and thank you so much for talking with your friend at the movie studio…We got some wonderful art work and posters for the play room and I got the money from the WBS foundation for toys and treats for the playroom and the way it is written they can't use it for anything else…and since it’s a credit card with my signature required they can't re word the purchases."
"Good…I'm sure Kevin Richards found a way to make his displeasure known."
"Oh yes…He wanted the money for something more beneficial to the whole hospital,"
"The man is a grade a jerk and one of these days he is going to go too far…He and his wife think I'm evil now…just wait." Lee laughed but Thanh knew she was serious. Mr. Richards would find Lee had a mind of her own and the friends to back her up if it got nasty.
George South watched as the two Jews left the house…his house that they had stolen from his family. Stolen by unbelievers who were letting the unclean profane the sanctification of his house. They would pay for their misdeeds and their vile actions …as the Holy Commander had directed. Cleanse by fire…that was the only way to regain his salvation…Cleanse the unbelievers before the unclean totally destroy any hope of becoming One with the Holy Commander and finding true salvation. To prevent them from becoming a abomination to the purity of the Elected ones sent to save mankind. To prevent the mixing of body and souls and the birth of more unclean that was the charge given to him by the Holy Commander to prove his own worthiness to be allowed to remain as One of the Elected. Fire that would burn as hot as the eternal fires of Hell…That was his task and he would not fail.
The run had been a long one. MVA were always hard but when it involved children it was even harder. A mother and 2 children had been hit by a driver whose brakes failed at a stop light. The mother's minivan had spun around and skidded into the right lane striking another car with 3 children and their mother. A fourth car had swerved to avoid the spinning car and hit a tree. The four college students in that were stunned but not seriously hurt.
"Marco, you and Chet start pulling cables, Mike we need to do a wash down…" Cap took control with his usual efficient manner. Like a well-rehearsed play, all knew what was expected of them.
"Johnny…Check out the blue station wagon." Roy said as he moved towards the green minivan. The truck driver was over talking with Sam Kline and the college kids.
"Ma'am just stay still and let me check your forehead." Johnny told the mother."
"Check the kids first…my little girl said her arm hurt…" A baby in the back was securely strapped in a car seat. The 7 and 5 year old had their seat belts on, the oldest cradling her right arm.
"I will but first I need to take care of that cut…My name is Johnny and I'm a paramedic…" The cut was about 2 inches long and not deep. A quick check showed her pupils were equal and reactive. Johnny applied a pressure bandage and took vitals.
Then he moved to the back seat and smiled at the two little girls. They reminded him of Jen and Stacy. He gave him his best lopsided grin. "Hi, I'm Johnny...let me see your arm ok, sweetheart." He gently undid the seat belt and began running a careful hand over her arm and elbow. "Can you tell me your name? And how old you are?'
"Carolynne but everyone calls me Carrie except when Mom wants me to really listen. I 'm gonna be 8 tomorrow."
"Happy Birthday a day early. Bet that hurts pretty bad…How did you hurt it?"
"I hit the door…The car jerked hard and I thought I was gonna get smashed." The blue eyes were wide and tear filled but she was trying very hard to be a big girl.
"Well now, I think you might have cracked your funny bone. Now me, I never see anything funny about that bone, do you?"
"No it hurts …"
"Marco, can you bring me a splint and a sling? Roy, I think she may have a cracked elbow…don't think it’s broken but it’s tender and swollen." He checked the vitals, explaining to the girl what he was doing. He saw the 5 year old watching them closely and smiled at her.
"Ok now that we have your big sister taken care…Can I check you to make sure you're ok?”
"Yes…my head hurts…" She said with a soft cry.”'I bumped it on Pammie's seat."
Johnny moved around to her. "Can you tell me your name and how old you are?"
"Lizzie…and I was 5 in December…Pammies is almost 2." Very grown up. Johnny felt a small lump on her head.
"Lizzie I'm gonna shine this in your eyes…It won't hurt ok? Is Lizzie short for Elizabeth?" She nodded yes.
"My wife's name is Leona Elizabeth…so I think Elizabeth is a very special name… Lee's mom is a Carolynn too…And my friend's wife is Pam so you all three have special names…" He finished the exam. "Roy, her left pupil is just a little sluggish…" He gave Roy the vitals.
Sam came over to Johnny. "I'm gonna tell Lee you're flirting with 2 pretty girls there…" He smiled at the girls. "My friend there'll take real good care of you. You need anything before I leave?"
"Naw, I think Rampart is gonna want to check everyone out…How is the driver?"
"Shook up…he was going a little under the speed limit said the car just didn't feel right…He just left the garage for a regular oil change…He pressed the brakes and nothing happen."
"John, Rampart wants to see all the kids and the 2 moms.…my patients are going just to get a precautionary check…Take your 3 in and we'll wait for the second ambulance…it’s in route."
"Ok…" they quickly loaded the mother and three girls keeping Pammie in her car seat.
"Statistical Data and Information Analysis…."
"Any chance you can come down to ER to meet my new friends? They are waiting for some x rays …I was telling them about you when we were riding in the ambulance. They remind me of Stacy and Jen."
"Sure can…think they would like some new crayons and coloring books?"
"Two would do nicely…Love ya."
When Lee got downstairs Johnny was sitting with two little girls reading to them from one of the books Dixie kept behind the desk. He smiled and said something to the girls as he got up.
"Leona Elizabeth I'd like you to meet Carolynne Sue and her sister Elizabeth Marie…to their friends, Carrie and Lizzie."
"Very nice to meet you Carrie and Lizzie…so has John Roderick here been behaving himself?" She smiled at the way he was being so protective of the little girls.
"Yes…He promised us we could come visit the fire station and he'll show us his favorite place to hide. I told him about the place I go hide when I just want to sit and read…and not play with my sisters."
Nodding and looking very serious, Lee looked at Johnny. "And did he tell you where his favorite place was to hide?'
"Yep at the fire station…Its by the thinking wall…but at home he doesn't have a hiding place 'cause he likes being with you…He told us you were in a car accident too…Mama is getting stitches…Pammie got to stay and watch cause she was almost asleep in her car seat…" Lizzie was a very informative 5 years old.
"That’s good to know…because it would make me sad if I thought he wanted to hide from me." Lee handed the girls a coloring book and crayons. "The fire department gave me some coloring books I could share…Maybe after you color the pictures you and your mommy and dad can talk about the pictures."
"That is a very good idea, don't you think Mrs. Casper?" Dixie said as she pushed their mother over to them. "Mr. Casper is on his way…I'm sure Johnny and Lee have a few minutes to wait until he gets here?"
"I'm not sure if Johnny can but I can," Lee said. "I think Johnny's ride is here." Johnny looked up and saw Roy walking towards him, "Hi."
""Hello…You ready Junior? I figure the guys will be wanting lunch…Lee thanks for dinner…all I have to do is make mashed potatoes."
"A salad or a green vegetable would be nice…healthy meals are good."
"Ok that’s an idea."
"Bye sweetheart." Johnny kissed her and winked when he heard the girls giggling.
"Your husband was so good with the girls. Do you have children?" Mrs. Casper asked.
"We've only been married 6 months. We have friends that let us borrow their kids to play with…and let us be their aunt and uncle."
Ten minutes later Mr. Casper claimed his family after thanking Dixie and Lee for the good care they received. Lee went back upstairs. She called Thanh and made arrangements to go to dinner with her and Sam tomorrow then go to the house to see how the redecoration was going.
"Her I have faith in…it’s you guys I don't trust. I still remember the chocolate cake we never got." Charlie Dwyer said as he cut a thick slice of the bread. "And the conflicting stories we did." Johnny just laughed and went on home.
They went grocery shopping then to the dry cleaners and the book store. Lee had found out that Sam and Thanh both enjoyed reading science fiction/fantasy especially a series about dragon riders. She knew that her favorite book store had miniatures of all the main dragons in the series.
The hand painted dragons were very detailed and the colors were rich vibrant jewel tones. When they went in Mr. Lester came to greet them. "My dear, I was going to call you…the books you ordered are in…I'll have Michael deliver them to your home when ever its suits you."
"They all go to the children's ward at Rampart…and I wanted Johnny to see the dragons I think they are perfect for our friends new house…they'll be housewarming gift. That is if you think they'll like them," she questioned, looking to Johnny for approval, not because she needed it but because she wanted it.
"They'll love it…Sam has been telling me I need to read those books and the ones about the horses that aren't really horses …"
"Yes I know the books he is talking about…you will enjoy them I think."
"Ok…send the children's books to Rampart…the dragon house and the first 3 in each of the series you are talking about to the apartment."
"We will have them delivered by Monday." They talked a few minutes more and then left. Mr. Lester went into the office where his daughter was working.
"I think we need to add a few more books to the order to Rampart…a few books about the dragon riders and the companions…the older children and adults will like that…"
George South was watching closely waiting for the right time to destroy the unclean ones who were making his home a place of evil. Tonight it was even worse than usual. Not only had the Jew and his harlot but two others had been there. The tall dark haired man was clearly a mongrel…and his harlot was defective…clearly she had been punished by the Holy Commander for some grave misconduct…She was one of the Elected …Her purity of blood was obvious…as was her punishment. From his hiding place George could hear them. And when he had heard them talking about making the sacred learning room into a room to gamble and drink in…they’d sealed their fate. The cleansing fire would come for them--- all of them.
"You gonna use the steps as an excuse to pick her up and fondle her?'' Sam said laughing, "Or do we each take a side of the chair and lift her up the steps?"
"You know I am sitting right here and can hear you…I'm not a her I'm me…"Very indignant and only half teasing. There was something making her very antsy and feeling like she was in the wrong place…like she was being judged and found unworthy of something. 'Ok no more feeling sorry for yourself…you're imaging things…'
"You ok Baby girl?" Johnny looked at her questioning her attitude and tone of voice. "I'm sorry if I said something wrong earlier…" They had been teasing both the girls about being short. Sam was 6 ft 3 and Johnny was 6ft 1 and Thanh was 5ft 2 inches…Johnny had made a remark about when she stood up Lee was almost 5 ft 4 inches…that all the time she spent in the water made her shrink. In actuality the back injury had caused her to lose height.
"I'm fine…Just get me up these steps so I can see the wall paper Thanh finally decided on," she said, laughing off her uneasiness. Johnny smiled and nodded at Sam.
"Ok Samuel, you take hold and remember you're lifting my world." Johnny said as he grabbed hold of the chair front. They easily got her on the porch. "Nice job." While the guys went upstairs to check out what was going to be the game room Lee and Thanh checked out the great room and the kitchen.
"Sam didn't mean to hurt your feelings when he was teasing Johnny earlier…I hope you understood that." Thanh said as soon as the guys were out of hearing range. "He is not like that."
"I know and so does Johnny. Sam and his dad have gotten a lot done here…The wall paper is nice… provides a nice focal point. We've been talking about maybe building a house. By the time we would make all the modifications needed on an already built house it would be the same as starting a new one."
"Isn't land expensive?" Thanh asked. "We looked at some lots but then this became available and it is so perfect…the hospital and his station are closer than either of our apartments would be."
"My grandfather brought a lot of land back in the early 50's. Some of it is still undeveloped and now it’s mine. But there are some things to take into consideration at least for now. Johnny is happier knowing Maria and Hector are downstairs. He worries when he’s on shift and I don't want him worrying about me when he is at work."
They let the subject drop and began concentrating on ideas for how to arrange the furniture in the great room and getting an idea what Sam and Thanh needed buy.
Sam was showing Johnny the huge room in the attic. The storage area of the attic was about half the size of the finish room. There were shelves built in into one wall and a bay window with a window seat.
"This was the most well kept room in the house. The other rooms were not so clean and you could tell they hadn't been painted or cared for…everything in this room was spotless even the light fixtures polished and all the bulbs working. I think who ever owned this house before me shut the rooms downstairs off and just lived up here…"
He looked out the bay window down into the small backyard. He needed to say something and wasn't sure how to start."Dad and I hauled probably 4 loads of trash from the three bedrooms and had to really scrub to get the walls ready to repaint…The bathrooms were so bad we gutted them and remodeled from the start…Lee would like the color of our guest room…it’s a sage green and lavender…Has this huge double walkin closet…" Sam looked around trying to figure out how to say what he wanted. "About that crack I made on the porch…It didn't come out right…we want you and Lee to always feel at home here. I'll build a ramp if you think that would make her more comfortable coming here."
"No problem...She’s pretty cool with that stuff. She even stays friends with Chester B most of the time…And when she does get mad at him it’s usually something he has said or done to me. He doesn't mean any harm."
"Yeah I can see that…Tell her if she ever needs help taking him down call me." Sam was friends with the entire A shift.
"Oh she can handle him and she knows Hector and Cisco have her back…The one he really needs to worry about is Maria…She catches him making Lee cry one more time and he is probably dead meat."
"Lee made a contribution? Didn't know that."
"Yeah like you weren't the only one I told about being worried about raising enough money to get a lift installed in his van…and the next day he gets a notice the lift has been bought and paid for including installation…and a complete overhaul on the van…So the money we raised went for some other things he needed."
"Don't know what you're talking about. Lee said one of these days we might have to get a lift like that for the Rover…or a new van."
"There isn't any hope for her to walk again? They told Doug they think it'll take awhile but he'll walk again…"
"No…the nerves are too damaged…If there had been paramedics for her like there was for Doug…But we do just fine together."
"Yep we're a pretty lucky pair, aren't we? Thanh …she is everything …"
"Your world…Yeah …Lee was the one thing missing from my life. Roy and Jo and the kids are fantastic and the guys from the station…they're all family…But Lee completes what they started building for me. Come on let's go see what those two are plotting."
"Sure if that’s what you want…or we can do it us against you two." They decided couples were better. It was a close game but in the end Lee and Johnny won.
"No its just this feeling I got yesterday and it keeps hanging on like I am being watched and whoever is watching isn't friendly…Maybe its reading too many murder mysteries when Johnny's at work." She let out a sigh. "Must be PMS," Jo laughed. "Can I ask you a question and I want a truthful answer."
"Now when have I ever been anything but truthful with you?" Frowning Jo wasn't sure what was going on in her friends head.
"Does it bother you when I come over? That you have to rearrange the furniture?"
"No of course not…Actually I think the room flows better since we moved stuff around…Why would you even ask about something like that?"
"Just something that was said the other day…Thanh still has no idea about the party. I really like the idea of an open house type party rather than a shower…It gives the guys a chance to enjoy the fun too. Anna suggested the fellowship hall at her synagogue…which is working out fantastic…the ladies group there is doing the food so we won't have to worry about the restrictions and set up and clean up is included in the cost. Anna and Mary Kate are doing the decorations and having a wonderful time working together."
"Ok you changed subjects too quick on me…back up…Why were you wondering about my having to move the furniture?"
"It was just something that popped into my head….No big deal….So is Jen excited about the Valentine's party at school?" Jo knew Lee wasn't going to say anything more about the furniture or why she asked that question. They finished their errands and went back to the house. Johnny and Roy were watching television.
They had interrupted the movie they were watching to show a fire at a store front church in LA that had been under investigation by the police as a front for a drug ring. Arson was suspected. Lee and Jo went into the kitchen to fix dinner.
After dinner Johnny and Lee went home fairly early since the next day was a work day. After they left and Jo had finished getting Jen into bed she and Roy were watching TV.
"Did Johnny say anything about Lee being uncomfortable coming over here?"
"No…why would she be uncomfortable?" Roy frowned knowing if Lee didn't feel welcome Johnny wouldn't be coming around.
"She felt bad last time everyone was here and she bumped the table and the vase got broke…but that was Chris' fault not hers…He stopped short right in front of her…"
He shook his head. "I am absolutely gonna kill Chet Kelly one of these days…Since he keeps putting his foot in his mouth I'm going to stuff it down his throat."
"What did he do now?" Jo understood now why Lee was so hesitant to say anything.
"Chet made a smart remark about using the no elevator excuse to blow off a party with Johnny's friends to go out with her friends and then one about reckless drivers when she was here. However, he was smart enough to do it when Johnny or the others couldn't hear. I don't think he meant for her or me to hear…just Marco. That explains why she looked so unhappy when we lifted her up the porch steps…"
George South watched as the mongrel picked the girl up and sat her in the car then put the wheelchair in the back of his truck. The girl seemed so happy…Didn't she realize that the mongrel was taking away any chance she had of redemption? Anyone could see she was one of the Elected…It was just a trick of the mongrel that made her seem defective. If she did not associate with such vileness, she would be complete again.
He followed them to a nice neighborhood and watched as the mongrel again picked the girl up kissing her and whispering his lies in her ear before placing her in the chair. He could hear her laughing at something that was said.
Another man came out and helped lift the chair up the steps. This one looked as if he was one of the Elected…another one the mongrel was corrupting. He would deal with the mongrel soon. But first today he had a larger task…to rid the city of the vile unbelievers who mocked him and his message from the Holy Commander. They would feel the cleansing fire and hear the message of the Holy commander and if they listened they could be saved and be reborn as one of the Elected ones. He left the quiet neighborhood and went to one not so quiet or nice. Slipping in the back door, he planted his devices and said the words of the Holy Commander.
"Bad night?" He gently kissed her. "Anything I can do to help?" He curled around her pressing up against her to let his body heat warm her.
"I had this terrible dream…and it was hard to get back to sleep…I know I woke you up but I couldn't talk about it …still can't."
"I want you to stay in bed and I'll grab something to eat…rest and relax awhile this morning."
"I have made you breakfast every morning you've been home…There is no reason not to today…"
"Yes there is…I just want to lay here holding you as long as I can. That seems a much more productive use of our time." To himself 'wish I could chase all your bad dreams away…' He kissed her neck and let her just lay there and doze until her alarm clock went off. That meant he had 45 minutes until he had to walk out the door.
"Yeah just got an early start this morning. She wasn't feeling real good this morning so I left early so she could go back to sleep."
"Already pulling the I got a headache routine on you Gage? She tired of you already?" Chet said as he came the rest of the way into the room. Johnny glared and kept his mouth shut. "Maybe you need to try harder and not go for a speed record. Maybe then we'd see some of those little Indians you use to say you wanted. Or is morning sickness the problem?"
"Chet you open your mouth one more time…" Roy said as he watched Johnny's expression.
"Let it go Roy. It's not worth the effort to argue about." Johnny left the room.
"Don't be such a mother hen DeSoto…Gage is a big boy he can take care of himself." Roy watched Chet standing there muttering. "Not worth the effort? Is that a challenge Gage? Let’s see what the Phantom's effort's are worth."
Roy didn't say anything but he didn't like the sound of that or the look on Kelly's face.
The chore assignments were handed out and as luck would have it Johnny was hanging hose with Mike while Chet had latrine duty. He had it for the next 3 shifts due to an unfortunate misjudgment on Chet's part on who would open the cupboard next for a glass. Cap didn't like getting wet.
After he finished mopping the day room Roy went out and helped hang the hose. Chet looked at the three working together and made a "humph" sounding snort. "No one ever offers to help me clean the bathroom." He was grumbling as the three finished and came into the day room.
"No one does it as good as you Chet," Mike said grinning at the frustrated linesman. Roy knocked on Cap's door. Hank looked up from the paper work.
"What's up Pal?" Hank had noticed John was quieter than usual and Roy had been watching him close.
"They finished with the hoses, is it ok if Johnny and I go get some supplies at Rampart?"
"Sure…and I have a list of things we need for the kitchen …" He gave Roy $20.00 from the station fund.
"Check with Marco and see if there is anything he needs. Roy, is John ok? He seems sort of down."
"He's ok…Think the change in weather had Lee feeling a little achy this morning…He called her right after roll call she didn't go to work today." Not wanting to tell him about what Chet had said since he knew Cap would be as angry as he was.
Before they could talk any more the squad was called out and he and Johnny left. Roy half expected a Gage rant about Chet but Johnny stayed quiet. The call was for a child who had fallen at school and had a cut on his forehead. He was fine except for needing a few stitches. Roy went in with him and Johnny followed in the squad. They had no sooner called in available they were sent out again. After the third call and trip to Rampart they decided they were ready for lunch. It was almost one.
"Let’s eat up in Lee's office…there is some good stuff up in her freezer." Lee had added a fridge to the conference room and a new microwave. "I know there is some good pulled pork and some soup." Roy called them in available at Rampart then they went upstairs. Lois watched as they let themselves into the office. She went over and stuck her head in the door.
"Johnny is Lee ok? We were a little worried about her not coming in this morning."
"She was just a little stiff and sore…The change in the weather …Thanks for asking."
"Tell her if she needs anything just give me a call." She went back to her office.
The guys decided pulled pork and some soup sounded good and stuck it in the microwave. Johnny looked over to Roy as they started eating. "Thanks."
"For what?" Puzzled by his friend's remark. "You and Lee are feeding me."
"For not asking about why I was so quiet and for sticking up for me…I was so mad I was afraid to say anything."
"Chet was just being a bigger jerk than usual. Think he still blames you for Cap getting water bombed."
"Lee has been talking about going to a specialist to see if there is anything new they can do for her. She wants a baby so bad…What if she heard Chet acting a fool like that? "
"Maybe you're going to have to tell them…not any details just that the doctor's recommend she doesn't get pregnant…Not that it is anyone's business but yours."
"Maybe if we told them it’s because of all the times I got hurt we can't have kids…then it wouldn't be her fault…not that it is… a fault I mean…it’s just the way things are."
"You two have a good marriage and its gonna survive anything Chet does or says…You can always file a formal complaint against him. Besides Junior you are the worst liar in the world."
"That would be a last option. I guess I'm gonna have to talk to him about it…You think we can do it together?"
"Maybe we can all talk about it so he doesn't think we're targeting him…Just let them know it makes her uncomfortable when they tease you about not having kids."
They finished their meal just as they were called out on a run. When they got back to the station the engine was out. Roy went into put a clean shirt on since the older gentleman they had just taken to the hospital had thrown up all over him in the treatment room.
He looked at the wall of lockers not believing what he was seeing…Wanting to get something and clean it up before Johnny saw it but knowing he couldn't. He went to into the kitchen where Johnny was. "Roy what's wrong?" He moved towards his partner who was pale and agitated.
"Don't go into the locker room…go into Cap's office and call HQ and tell them we need an officer here ASAP…Then ask that Chief Houser stand us down…Do it now John. "
He relayed the message and went out to the squad and grabbed the trauma box and bio phone not sure what had caused Roy's reaction.
"This is Cisco Alvarez…on our way to Station 51." He turned on the lights and siren and muttered as he drove. "Dispatch any information on what assistance is needed?"
"No Lt. Caller just said they needed a unit there as quick as possible."
When Cisco pulled into the station's parking lot he didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The bay door was up so they went in that way. The squad was there but no engine. "Damn mijo what's going on now?'' He muttered as he hurried into the kitchen where he could hear Johnny talking.
"Johnny, Roy you guys ok?" Cisco called as they came into the kitchen. Roy was sitting at the table an O2 mask on. He was pale and shaking. When he saw Cisco he slipped the mask off.
"Keep John out of the locker room," Roy said as he stood up. Johnny started towards the locker room.
"You heard the man, he is the senior paramedic. Dan, keep my brother in law out of trouble if that's possible." Cisco and Roy went into the locker room.
"I didn't think Theressa and Elania were married…," he said looking confused since Cisco had been trying to fix him up with either one of his sisters.
"My wife is his unofficial foster sister." Johnny said as he inched towards the locker room.
"Back here and sit down. You're married to the one he calls Little One…the girl in the wheel chair."
"A word of advice…don't call her that in front of him or his family and definitely not in front of her…Her name is Lee and yes she uses a wheel chair." Before anything else could be said Cap and the others came in.
"What are the police doing here and who stood you down and why?" Cap demanded. He looked at John, relieved his junior paramedic was in one piece. "Where is Roy?"
"In the locker room…He won't let me in there…Dan Kessler, Captain Hank Stanley…Dan is new to the police department…just moved here from back east." Johnny smiled at the look on Dan's face. "We had dinner with Cisco's mom and dad the other night." He turned to cap. "Bet they'll let you in there." A little bitter sounding to Cap's ear.
Cap went to the door, knocked, and announced himself. Cisco called for him to come in but no one else.
Cap went in stopping just inside the door… The first thing he noticed was the smell---blood, urine and feces…The second was the small dog hanging from Johnny's locker with its throat cut. Across the top of the locker bank written in blood DIE MONGREL.
Cap felt sick as he saw Johnny's clothes and everything in his locker covered with blood…Even his beloved Smokey the Bear poster. No wonder Roy looked sick and Cisco madder than hell.
"There isn't any way around it he has to come in…Just him…until the crime lab boys get here, this room is off limits."
"That can be a problem…the guys are gonna need the latrine" Cap rubbed his head. "How…Who?"
"Roy bring him in…and tell Dan to call the crime lab…"
Johnny looked at the puppy and the mess. After what seemed like ages he closed his eyes, tears rolling down his face. He petted the small, still body. "Sorry little guy…They did that to you because of me."
It was then they realized the tears were for the puppy not him. He touched Smokey and felt the bile rise in his throat. The next sound that came out of his him chilled everyone to the bone. "NO! LEE!" His eyes were frozen to the empty space on the locker door.
It was then Roy realized the wedding picture that Johnny had taped up there was gone. "His favorite picture from the wedding…right after they said their vows…"
"Is Lee at work?" Cisco demanded.
"No at home she didn't feel good this morning." Roy answered, as Johnny was looking shocked. "Come on Junior let’s get you out of here." He guided his friend out.
Cap had him by the other elbow. As they were leaving Cisco saw the bloody paper lying under the bench. Carefully he picked it up by the corner. It was the torn photograph. Johnny standing there smiling under the bloody boot print.
Soon as they got out of the locker room Cisco went into Cap's office and called his mom. She answered on the third ring.
"Ma…listen. Lock every door even the stair well. Use the dead bolts…Once you get up to Lee's apartment lock the elevator…You get up there and you stay until me or dad get home…Is Eddie with Dad?"
"No he has class…Francisco, what is wrong?"
"Someone vandalized Johnny's locker…Make sure she understands he is fine…Keep her away from the windows and the balcony…Whoever did this took her picture and might knows where she lives."
"We will be fine." Cisco knew his mom would do everything she could to defend Lee.
"Ma, you know where dad's gun is? Take it with you."
"I will. God be with you, all of you."
"Love you too ma." He hung up and called his dad's mobile phone. He quickly filled his dad in and went back out to the kitchen.
"Johnny…Lee is fine and mom is with her…She is going to lock down the apartment and take dad's rifle upstairs with her. Dad's on his way home. "
Johnny nodded holding the cup of hot coffee as if it was a life line."
"Can your mom use that rifle?" Dan had not met Maria or Hector yet.
"My mom was born in the Texas hill country…Her dad was a Texas Ranger…my dad was a Marine when they met…Now do you think she can use that rifle?"
"No…Not even any of the bikers we've dealt with lately." Johnny sat there twisting his wedding band as he answered.
"Anyone you can think of?" Roy shook his head no. "The Phantom making fun of Johnny's heritage lately, Chet?" Chet was not one of Cisco's favorite people.
"Cisco, stop that." Johnny's tone was harsh as if he was having to work to force air out of his lungs. "Chet might give me a hard time about being a half breed but … This morning…he was just being Chet. He never means any harm…He wouldn't kill a puppy just too …." He made a dash for the nearest trash can Roy following.
Chet turned white as a ghost as he remembered his crack early that morning. None of the guys honestly thought he would do anything like that to John? Him kill a puppy?
"What exactly was said this morning Chet?" Cap said frowning.
"I was teasing him about wanting a bunch of little Indians running around…And asked if Lee stayed home because of morning sickness." Cap and Cisco just gave him disgusted looks. There was something in Cisco's eyes that made Chet shudder, as if he had made a bad enemy.
She would get up in a little while and fix herself some hot chocolate and English muffins with orange marmalade. Johnny had said to call him but it was so hard to stay awake when she took those pain pills. She heard the door open and Maria calling to her.
"Are you feeling any better? Johnny stopped and told me you had a bad night."
"Weather change and just tired…too many dreams last night and just restless." She was having trouble keeping her eyes opened. "The pain pills are making me so sleepy…guess that is why I’m not supposed to take them on an empty stomach."
"That is ok you sleep now and I will fix you something good when you wake up." Maria helped her get settled and put her bolster behind her back. "Sleep. Sleep and dream of your Johnny." Maria turned the radio on to her favorite soft jazz station.
Soon Lee was sound asleep again. Maria was thankful that Lee had chosen today to give into her body's demand for rest. It was chilly and the weatherman said there was a good chance of a heavy rain tonight.
Maria heard the doorbell and smiled. Hector was home. He had used the old trick of Morse code when he rang the bell. Jeff had started that when Lee was little. She looked at the clock and was surprised to find she had been sitting there almost an hour.
He came into the room quietly so not to startle or wake the sleeping girl. "She looks like a child…I double checked all the doors and made sure the security bar was in the patio doors. Does she know what is going on?'
"No she took the pain pills on an empty stomach...for once I'm glad…Did you talk to Cisco?"
"They found the back door broken and a bloody foot print…nothing was bothered except for Johnny's locker…Whoever it was tore their wedding picture in half and took her picture…that has Cisco worried…Is this someone who doesn't like Johnny because of his mixed heritage or is it someone who is targeting him because of some sort of sick fantasy about Lee…or just a random act of someone who's a bigot."
"So what do we do to keep her safe and him?" Maria looked at her adopted daughter.
"Watch her and stay with her…no one we don't know personally comes up here…I think Johnny and Cisco are going to want her to stay home from work for a few days… If anyone asks she isn't feeling well and is sleeping a lot when the phone rings you or I answer.
Cisco is coming over to get Johnny some clothes and shoes…everything in his locker was ruined plus they took them to the lab.” It made him sick to his stomach as he told her what had been done to their young friend. "I think Cisco is calling Jeff…as soon as he has something a little more concrete to tell him."
The crime lab had taken what they wanted and given the ok to clean up the locker room. Johnny was amazed when the others said they would clean the locker room but he had refused saying he needed to do it himself.
He was scrubbing the inside of his locker when Cap came in. Cap just stood watching.
"Cap, if you need to call a replacement in…I understand."
"Are you unable to do your job, Pal? Is that why you want a replacement?" Thinking it was something else bothering his young friend.
"No…I…can…you …" He stopped and took a deep breath closing his eyes to see the words to visualize what he wanted to say. "If you think my being… here… puts you or the guys in danger…tell me to leave…it’s ok…I don't want to be the cause of anyone else getting hurt."
"You know if I thought your being here was a threat you'd have been gone as soon as Cisco said you could leave. I think whoever did that is a dirty low life coward…and isn't gonna try anything when you have your friends and family nearby. John it’s ok to accept help from your friends no matter what the problem is."
A few minutes later everyone came in and helped to scrub the room top to bottom. But no matter how hard they scrubbed or what they used the faint lettering remained.
Cap went into his office and made a phone call and a short time later a quart of primer and white paint was delivered from the local hardware store.
"I'm ok." Johnny said. Looking at his friend and shaking his head no.
Before Roy could pull rank the SCU toned in "Squad 51 man down…"
After the squad pulled out Chet got on the ladder and painted a section then Mike and Marco did a section. Cap smiled at the support they were showing their friend. Mike finished his section and looked at Cap who nodded and finished up the last bit. Just as they finished Chief Houser and a maintenance man from headquarters came in.
"Someone from maintenance would have done that painting tomorrow," Chief Houser said as he watched the men clean up the paint and cleaning supplies.
"No offense Chief but we didn't want Gage to have to see that filth…He cleaned most of this room by himself …Scrubbed the walls and floors and his locker…But then he couldn't get the bloody words all off the wall…" Chet said, angry not at the Chief or the department but at the person who had violated their station. "Then they got a call so we just finished it for him sir."
"That's what I would expect from this shift…Howard here will fix the lock and I wanted to check if there is anything we can do for you all…but as always you take care of your own. I spoke briefly with Lt. Alvarez…He is taking precautions at their home and I am sure all here will be watching. Be assured if it turns out any one who is connected to the LACFD is involved in this they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Give this to John and tell him the department will replace the uniform he lost as well…no deduction from his allowance for the quarter."
Johnny was surprised to see how bad his hands were shaking again. They were red and cracked from the bleach water he had used to scrub the locker room with…Mongrel…the word kept screaming in his head…The cadence almost like a football cheer. He fought the bile that was rising in his throat again. Besides there was nothing left to throw up.
Lunch seemed to be a far memory but the thought of food made his stomach flip. He didn't want to go in there and see the looks on their faces…Everyone would be looking at him like he was a freak. He pulled into the lot at Rampart and took a deep breath. Maybe if he sat there for a minute he could get the shaking under control.
Roy was waiting for Johnny at the nurses' desk and was starting to worry. He had plenty of time to get to the hospital from the victim's home…Even if he had caught every red light. He checked his watch again. Vince Howard came in and looked around until he spotted Roy.
"Hi Vince," Roy said not sure why the officer was here.
"Hi. Dixie, they said you had a paper they needed at the station…I was told to pick it up."
"Yeah, the results of the blood tests from earlier. They're in Kel's office." She left and Vince frowned at Roy and started to say something then stopped.
"Something wrong Vince?" Roy checked his watch again. "My partner's running slow, guess he got caught up in traffic.
"Johnny's out in the parking lot…Roy, he looked like he was crying…Or he was sick…"
"Vince tell Dixie I had to go…and thanks…Do me a favor and don't say anything about Johnny…I'll explain later."
"Junior, you ok?" He got in and sat there waiting for Johnny to answer. "Talk to me John."
Johnny had moved over to the passenger side as usual. He looked at Roy his eyes red and sad. "I think I'll tell Cap I need a few days off and just go camping for awhile…Will you check in on Lee for me?"
"No…that isn't happening…You can't run from this. Cap already told you…"
"But what about Lee and the Alvarez family. The kids are in and out of there all the time. What if he tries something when we're together with you and Jo and the kids?"
"Look that low life isn't gonna wreck your life…You and Lee have something good, something special…if you run away from her she is never going to understand why. She is going to think it’s because you don't trust her to be strong enough to be with you. You know her insecurities and fears…and you know her strengths." Roy smiled. "And we know something this creep doesn't. You and Lee have friends and resources no one knows about…Now you don't think Cisco won't move heaven and hell to protect Lee? And you?"
"He said he was going to go see her…Maybe when we get back to the station I should call her…I need to check on her …"
George watched the police leave and a short while later the squad. While he wanted to follow the squad, he had work to do. Tonight the cleansing fire would be felt and the Holy Commander would be pleased. It would be a bigger and more impressive cleansing…a seedy hotel and a store front church would both be engulfed. The hotel was a place where the Elected Ones were deceived and stolen from the true path.
The store front church preached against all that the Holy commander taught. They accepted and encouraged the unclean ones and the defective ones to mingle and breed…They kept the Elected Ones from following the path to redemption and fulfillment. And that the fires would be battled by the Mongrel and those he corrupted would be an added gift to the Holy Commander…Soon he could concentrate on saving the Girl and restoring her to the path so that she would no longer be defective…He would prove to the Holy Commander he was worthy to be an Elected One and would bring honor and courage to those who walked the true path . Soon the Holy Commander will give him the sign and he can reclaim his place and his sanctuary…
"I am enjoying my book…Lee, how many pills did you take?"
"Johnny gave me two when he brought me some juice and then I took two more later…I guess I forgot I told Johnny I would eat before I took the other two…but when I tried to get up it hurt so I took the two and thought I would get up and make some toast and hot chocolate after they started to work…But then I couldn't stay awake…"
"So you had 4 pills on an empty stomach…no wonder you slept like that…You never even moved when Hector came in or when Cisco did… you can't do that…the doctors told you never on an empty stomach they are too strong for you to do that. Johnny called and I couldn't wake you up to talk to him… I didn't tell him that…he had enough problems without worrying about you any more than he already was…"
"Is he ok? Why…What kind of problem? Was he hurt? Did something bad happen?"
"Yes there was a problem…someone vandalized his locker …called him a foul name and made a huge mess…"
"But he is ok? And the others?"
"They are fine…it happened when they were all gone…To make him feel better Hector and I are going to stay with you. Now I am going to go fix you something to eat…Hector will be here for dinner later…How about I make you a fruit shake? "
"Ok…I am going to call him…" She looked at Maria wondering what she wasn't telling her.
"Station 51, Capt. Stanley speaking." Hank and Cisco agreed he or Mike would answer all calls for awhile. "How may I help you?"
"So very official, Captain. How is Johnny? Maria said he was ok but someone vandalized his locker? That had to upset him."
"Yeah it did but we've had a busy day so it's helped. He is up on top of the hose tower…give him a minute to get down."
"No don't bother him…I just wanted to tell him I loved him and miss him."
"I think he needs to hear that from you …"
"OK Hank what is it that you and Maria aren't telling me? I can hear it in your voice. I saw it in her face. What did they call him?"
"Mongrel….Johnny is worried about your safety if this creep knows where he lives."
"So that is why Hector is here… Hank is he safe?"
"You know we take care of our boy…You take care and feel better soon, ok?"
"Thanks. It’s just something that happens every once in awhile…the doctors have a big fancy name I think it’s just a another way of saying I 'm lazy."
"Don't believe that for a second." A few minutes later Johnny was on the line and they talked for a short while.
"Sam, do you hear something running?' Jacob heard a faint whirling sound. "Did you leave a TV turned on?" It was a noise he should recognized.
"Don't even think either one is plugged in why?" He had just come in from outside.
"Listen…Don't you hear something like a machine running? Go upstairs and check."
As Sam went up the stairs the noise increased and he smelled something . The sound and the smell were coming from the hallway that led to the attic stairs. Gasoline…that was the smell and there was nothing in the house that should have that smell.
Turning quickly he went back down stairs calling to his dad as he moved. "Get out…go call the fire department." He had worked too many fires and too many accidents not to recognize that smell. He went into the kitchen and grabbed the fire extinguisher and headed back up the steps. He opened the door to the stairwell and heard the buzzing sound. Carefully and slowly he went up the landing and was surprised at what he saw. As soon as he saw it he ran down the stairs and cut the electric to the house. I hope that it was in time to stop the process.
"The fire department is on the way; my wife is with your dad…" The young Blackman said. "Let's get out of here…" He pulled Sam back from the doorway and shut the door. As he pulled Sam from the house, the engine and squad arrived.
"Sam!" Johnny called as he saw his friend coming off the porch.
"Stairwell in back…gasoline explosion…" He said between coughs.
"His dad is at my house…you might want to check on him…He was pretty shook up."
"Cap we're going next door to check on Sam's dad…Come-on Sam we'll get you on O2.…Johnny grab the O2 …" He had the bio phone and trauma box.
Jacob was sitting in an overstuffed chair. When he saw Sam and the paramedics come in the look on his face was a mix of relief and sadness.
"Papa?" Sam said as he sat next to the older man. "Johnny and Roy are gonna check you out." He did not like the color of his dad's skin or the grayness around his mouth. He moved back as the paramedics came closer.
"He hasn't called me papa in in years…Johnny good to see you…this must be Roy" He stopped and took a deep breath.
"Jacob just sit quiet and let Roy get some vitals and we'll get you all checked out at Rampart." Johnny said as he set up the O2 and got Sam started on it. The couple who owned the home stood back watching. Johnny turned to the man, "Can you go tell Stoker we need the O2 from the engine…He's the guy running the gauges." The man nodded and left.
Roy smiled as Johnny continued to talk to Jacob and the man's pulse and blood pressure were showing improvement. "Hey Roy did you know Jacob was teaching Lee some Yiddish? She was reading a book, the characters were talking, and it made her mad they didn't translate…"
"That wife you yours she is a special lady…Makes an old man feel important and needed." Jacob was very fond of the young paramedic and his wife. The two boys had been friends since Sam had became a sheriff but now it was good to see him and Thanh have friends like Johnny and Lee.
"Yeah I think so too…She has made that braided bread of Anna's for me several times…"
"Anna will be happy to hear that…she thinks you are too skinny," Jacob said.
"Everyone thinks that," Roy said as he wrote down the new vitals. He called them in and Johnny gave him Sam's information.
After listening to the vitals and Roy's assessment… Morton said to transport for a follow up exam.
However, he did order an IV so a paramedic had to go in with them. It was mainly due to Jacob's history of a heart problem that Dr. Morton had requested them to come in.
They took Jacob out to the ambulance and Sam walked out with Johnny. He wanted to talk with the officers and firefighters before he left.
"They'll see you at Rampart…Go take care of your dad," Johnny said with a grin. "You want to face your mom if someone tells her you were the reason for a delay in getting him there?" Sam gave him a look then went out and got in the ambulance. After they left Johnny went over to talk with Cap and the others.
"How much damage was done Cap?" Johnny knew how hard Sam and Jacob had worked on the house.
"The stair well needs repair and maybe upstairs walls will need a good cleaning. Your friends were lucky…If no one had been here they would have lost the whole place…and it could have spread quick to the other homes as close as they are."
"Sam said it was a spur of the moment thing they came over with the boxes…I think it was Someone looking out for them." Johnny said quietly. "Like Jacob said God watches over his children.
Johnny went into the kitchen and called home. He had talked with Lee a few minutes earlier but had been tones out before they had a chance to say much more than I love you and I miss you… Hector answered on the second ring.
"Hey, Hector, is she still awake?" It was a little after 10.
"Yep think she is waiting for you to call…Wouldn't take a pain pill a while ago. Said she didn't need it."
"Do you think she does?" Johnny was not good at being sick but it was even worst for him when she was.
"Do you think it’s something serious?"
"No these episodes only last about 24 hours and it’s usually only when she gets really tired. It's like an electrical system that has a short in it…just keeps sending little shock waves out to the nerve endings…like they are over stimulated and misfiring. So how you doing? You get the clean up done?"
"Yeah the guys helped clean up the mess…Everything been quiet around there?"
"Yep…Cisco has a patrol car come by every so often but not regular intervals…if some one's watching he doesn't want to give them a pattern. Everything is locked up…You gotta an elevator key?"
"No…we keep forgetting to get one made…don't think it has ever been locked before."
"Call before you leave in the morning and I'll unlock it."
"Ok…How much does she know about what happen?" Johnny was worried about upsetting her and making the muscle spasms worst.
"That your locker was vandalized and you were called a disgusting name." Hector said the anger in his voice clear. "We didn't tell her about the dog or the picture or the death threat….Johnny you are taking that serious right?"
"More worried about the threat to her…If someone is really serious about the die part…She doesn't need that right now…She never does….."
"Hang on and I'll give her the phone." He laid the phone down and went into the bedroom. Lee was awake watching the television but not really paying attention. "Johnny is on the phone."
"Thanks." She picked it up quickly. "Hi darlin'. How are you?"
"Fine the important thing is how you are?" He was relieved to hear her voice. She sounded so much better than she had earlier. "I love you"
"I'm not sure why you do but sure am glad you do…Sorry I worried you today…and that you had such a terrible day."
"As long as you're ok the other stuff is just…stuff…irritating but not important. You'll probably see it on the news…someone tried to burn Thanh and Sam's house down but they were there and the damage was minor. Sam and Jacob are fine."
"Today is one of those days…And thankfully it's almost over…You should be turning in…John Roderick, is there anything else I need to know?"
"Nothing that can't wait till in the morning."
They talked a few minutes more and each hung up feeling a little more relieved but both still worried about the one they loved.
George was furious and frightened. For the first time he had failed to obey the Holy Commander's orders. Not only had his device not cleansed the house and driven the unclean ones away the mongrel had come with his corrupted friends and they had been the ones to stop the cleansing. And when he checked at the station they had repainted and cleaned the locker room…all helping the corrupted one…Even the Elected One in charge had helped…He was now corrupted too. They would all pay.
It had not been hard to find out his name and address. He had went down to the vehicle registration office and told the old cow of a clerk a sad tale. He had hit a truck and didn't want his insurance company to know…He had left a note to make arrangements to pay to get it fix but hadn't heard anything back. He was afraid the note had blown away or been lost somehow.
The old cow had been so impressed with his honesty she had given him the information. He had driven by the address. It was a nice apartment building…It would be easy to get into…He finished addressing the package and for the first time since the aborted fire smiled. They would soon learn they could not stop the Holy Commander's will….The Holy Commander did not tolerate failure. He would prove to that he was worthy and he would bring an even bigger sacrifice…One that will prove his worth…
Lee was in the kitchen when Cisco and Hector came back upstairs. She could hear them out in the hallway and added more bacon to the pan she was getting ready for the oven. She already had rolls baking and potatoes on cooking.
"You seem to feel a lot better today…How's your back?" Cisco said as he watched her moving around the kitchen.
"Better…a little tight if I reach for something too high or heavy…Any clue who the idiot was at the station?'
She was cutting up fruit and didn't see the look that past between Hector and Cisco
"No…The coffee ready?" Cisco was watching her not sure how much to tell her before Johnny got home.
"How long till Johnny gets here?"
"He usually gets home between 8:30 and a quarter till…Breakfast is at 9 if you can stay…"
"Yeah I can…but you don't have to cook for us. Mom will be home soon."
"No she won't Gabby has dance at 9:30 and then Gina has piano at 11 and Tony and Gina are both working…I know the schedule…Usually Tony is home by 9 but he is working over time this week."
As she was talking she was busy mixing up batter for pancakes. "So what is it that I need to know that you don't want to tell me…And it better not be that Johnny is walking in here with a bandage of any kind…"
"No we just need to talk about what happened yesterday…It hit him harder than he wanted to let on…It hit them all hard." Hector said as he poured himself a cup of coffee. "Lee, you aren't going to like what happened but you need to keep your temper…Don't make it harder for him."
"Hector, I could hear it in his voice last night... he was hurting. And he wouldn't tell me why…And now you are telling me not to lose my temper…this is scaring me a lot."
"You need to let him tell you about it in his own way…and he may or may not want us here when he does. But let it be his choice."
When Johnny came in all were shocked at how tired and worn out he looked. There were dark circles under his eyes and Lee knew by the way he kept rubbing his forehead and the bridge of his nose he had a bad headache.
He bent down to kiss her and held her tighter than usual. Feeling his need to be near her she cupped her hand behind his head pulling him closer to her. He finally stood up and looked at the food and his friends.
"Uhmmm if you all don't mind I think I'll skip breakfast and take a shower…Sorry I should have called but didn't think you'd have all this ready."
"Hector and Cisco can eat and the rest will be fine for later…hey, Mr. Gage, did I tell you how much I love you today? Go get your shower…There are clean clothes in there for you already." He went on into the bedroom and she fixed pancakes for the other two.
"Why don't you make them to go? I think John needs some alone time with you…We'll be downstairs so call us if you need anything…I'm gonna lock off the elevator…the stairwell is locked."
Lee packed them a basket of food and thanked them for everything.
"Anything you need before we go?" Hector said watching her face. "You look like you want to ask me something."
"Will you help me transfer onto the couch? I could do it myself but it's easier this way…"
"Haven't I always taught you any task is easier with a friend helping?"
She rolled herself over there then after she had been settled he moved the chair over and brought her in a glass of juice. "I won't tell you to take care of him because I know you will." He kissed her lightly on the forehead. "Call if you need anything.Little one, we'll take good care of you both…Don't let him worry about you ok?"
Lee was looking at a magazine when he came out. He had on a pair of sweat pants and an old baggy sweat shirt. She looked up at him as he went into the kitchen and got a glass of milk. "Sorry I couldn't eat the nice breakfast you made…it looked great but…"
"Your head was splitting…I could see that in your eyes, sweetie." Two long gulps and the milk was gone.
"Lay down here with your head in my lap…" She put a small pillow on her lap and he was soon lying peacefully. His eyes were closed as she rubbed his forehead lightly pushing the shaggy hair back from his face. "Cap is gonna be on you to get a haircut…if he hasn't already."
"Me too… "He laughed as he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. He sat her down and watched as she slipped off the shift she was wearing. Using the grab bar she pulled herself back as he lifted her legs onto the bed. Once she was comfortable he went around to his side and after taking off the sweats got in beside her. He smiled as she turned over on her side. He moved closer to her and put his arm over her.
"When you retire I think this is one of the things I'll enjoy the most …just laying here close to you…" He kissed the back of her neck and buried his face against her back.
"He killed a puppy…it was just a little mixed breed puppy who probably never had a chance to just run and play and be a puppy…That puppy didn't deserve to die because of me…The words were written in his blood across the top of the lockers…die mongrel…Everything in the locker was soaked with blood and …" He stopped and took a deep breath. "He even ruined my poster…"
"Oh baby…I'm so sorry…." The tears in her eyes were also in her voice. "I wish I could make it go away…"
"The worst part was the picture…." Lee waited for him to continue but she felt the tears on her back and the shudders that went through him. "He tore the picture and stepped on it…but took the part with you looking so beautiful …so fragile…All night I kept seeing this monster…come after you with that picture in his hand. I was so afraid for you…What if while I am at work he'd come here? Or followed you when you were coming home or…"
"Shush…" She wiggled until she was turned facing him. "Shhushh" She put her fingers on his lips.
"Nothing is gonna happen to me…People like that are cowards and as long as others are around…"
"You sure this wouldn't be a good time for you to go visit your uncles or someone?"
"No. Not unless you went too'" Lee's tone and the way she stiffened left no doubt that that was a final decision. "Now, stop talking, close your eyes and think of good things…"
"Ponies and waterfalls?' He said as he moved closer, his arm over her protectively. "Or something more adult?"
"Whatever makes you relaxed enough to sleep…maybe think about when you wake up…" She said as she moved slightly to get more comfortable. She knew once he got relaxed he would roll over onto his back and would sleep for a few hours.
She woke up 2 hours later and listened to the soft even breaths he took in his sleep. He was on his back but his arm wasn't across his eyes but lightly touching her back. Smiling she went back to sleep after carefully turning over.
It was a little after 12 when he woke up. She was next to him still asleep. Sometime during their nap she had repositioned herself so she wasn't facing him. Usually when she did that it woke him up but he had never heard or felt her…
"Would you put the little pillow behind me?" She said softly not opening her eyes…
"You sure?" She smiled at the tone of his voice.
"Unless you don't want to?"
"Now that is a silly question."
He had not seen the Girl since she was at his house. Was the mongrel keeping her prisoner? Was she just acting for her own protection when she had seemed so happy to have him touch her? The more he thought that the clearer it was to him…She was with that mongrel out of fear and possibly worse.
George smiled thinking how pleased the Holy commander would be if he could rescue the Girl and restore her to her rightful place as an Elected One…He was ready to go finish with the other box when he heard a truck pulling into the drive, He quickly crossed the lot without being seen melting into the parking lot..
"How about Chinese? I could call and you can go pick it up or we can go to O'Sheas then grocery shopping. That way we wouldn't have to do it tomorrow…Or we can just eat whatever I can find here that sounds good…I had boiled potatoes before I changed my mind and made pancakes…there is still batter made up…I have more bacon or sausage I can cook and there is plenty of fruit…"
"You're going to turn into a marshmallow before the winter is over… "He stood up and went over to her to push her out to the kitchen. "You sure you're feeling ok? No more pains?”
"Nope I am fine…that’s just something that happens every once in a while." The phone rang. He stopped and answered it.
"Hello." He listened then put the phone down. "It's Kathy. She made a big pot of vegetable soup and a chocolate sour cream cake and wants to know if we'd like to come over for supper then play some cards. Jim is off tomorrow."
"That might be fun…we haven't seen them for a few weeks…now that Kathy is working part time our schedules don't match very well."
"Kath, she said that would be great…What time? Ok see you at 6." He hung up and they went on out to the kitchen.
"That’s too long for you to wait to eat…There are cinnamon rolls and fruit or I can still make you a pancake or two and some eggs…"
"And bacon?" He gave her a crooked grin. "I couldn't keep supper down last night and then this morning I just had milk…I wouldn't have been able to keep breakfast down either…"
"Johnny…You should have told me that earlier…I would have fixed you something to eat."
"No earlier was what I needed then…to be close to you and sleep without the dreams or the voices…" He looked sad for a moment. "You make everything all right in my life, you know that don't you? Maybe I'm not as good as I should be about explaining how I feel about things…Roy wanted to do a therapy session but it was still too raw…Are you sure you wouldn't like to go to see Matt or Jeff for a few days?"
"No and that is the end of that nonsense. Now I am going to fix you something to eat and you are going in there and watch TV or read the paper ….After you eat if you want we can go to the store or we can just hang out here until time to go to Jim and Kathy's. Get some juice or milk to drink and a roll until I get the other stuff fixed." She put the water on for the eggs and heated the grill for the pancakes and set the oven on low to reheat the bacon. He sat at the counter watching her and eating a roll. He enjoyed watching her it was calming to him.
"Honey you have to get the chocolate down I can't reach it…I forgot to tell you when I used the last of the other tin. I guess I have been drinking a lot of hot chocolate…You want some too?"
"Yep…" He got the chocolate for her then checked if there was anything else she needed moved down. "That’s the last of the chocolate and there is no flour or sugar on the top shelves…"
"Add them to the list…then sit down everything is just about ready." After they ate she changed clothes since they had decided to go to the store. The air was cool and slightly damp so Lee had on a pair of heavy sweat pants. Johnny had laughed when she went to the boys department of the store to get them, saying they were heavier and warmer than those in the women's section. Since she hated wearing coats and jackets, she had a long sleeved turtleneck shirt on under a heavy sweat shirt.
Johnny had on jeans and a sweatshirt with an LACFD tee shirt on under it. He had changed his mind at the last minute and put on a pair of his boots instead of sneakers. After they got off the elevator Johnny locked it so no one could go up. Maria heard them in the hall way and came out to see them. She was glad to see they were smiling and laughing and the dark circles Hector had told her about were gone from Johnny's face.
"No but thank you for asking. Everything better?"
"We talked and we aren't going to let this make us victims of our own fear…that doesn't mean we won't be careful and watchful. " Lee assured her.
"And thank you for helping her yesterday when I was working…There is some flu going around and I knew it would be hard to get a replacement." Johnny gave her a kiss on the cheek. "It means a lot to know you're there for her."
"Not just me but all of us…." A few more words and they went on out to the parking lot. Eddie and Hector were loading things into their truck.
"Johnny, you got some extra bungee cords in the Rover?" Hector called to them.
"Yeah…how many you need?" He pushed Lee off to the side so he could get them out of the back of the Rover. When he opened the door the smell hit him in the face.
"Four if you have them." Hector heard his gasp and saw him jump back. "You OK?"
"Get Lee in the house…" He slammed the doors shut and leaned back on them. "No arguments" He said not looking her. "Please, baby girl go inside," he pleaded. Eddie pushed her inside knowing if he was that upset something was definitely wrong. Soon as Lee was inside Johnny opened the Rover and moved aside and let Hector see inside.
The blood soaked box was leaking blood and urine and the smell was overpowering. Inside was the parts of several animals and what looked like a human skull. Die Mongrel was spray painted on the side of the box.
"I'm calling Cisco…" Hector waited for Johnny to say something. When he got no response he took Johnny over to the curb and sat him down. Johnny sat there looking at him but the eyes were blank and there was no expression on his face. "Johnny…stay with me…Eddie!" The door opened and Eddie came out to see what his dad needed. "Call Roy and tell him Johnny needs him…then call Cisco…"
"Mom already called Cisco…he's on his way here." Eddie watched as Johnny was sitting there rocking slightly. "I think we need Lee out here or him in there with her…don't think we can wait for Roy to get here."
They guided Johnny inside and Lee immediately went over to him. "John Roderick, listen to me, I need you to focus…Johnny, and it’s ok…nothing bad is going to happen…" She held tightly onto his hand and with her other hand she rubbed his shoulder. "Nothing is going to hurt me…No one can hurt me….I love you and that’s all you need to focus on…Don't go away from me…"
He could hear her voice but he knew she was wrong…If he stayed with her she was going to get hurt…He needed to go away…Why wouldn't they just let him go away and they would be safe…They would be safe and so would he…that safe place where nothing hurt or scared you…He felt the strong hands taking his chin and turning his face towards the voice. A deep strong powerful voice but it had a soft safe feeling also. The hand holding him made it harder to rock.
"Mijo, you listen to me. None of this is your fault and if you run away you'll only hurt Lee…You'll be the one to hurt her…You need to be here to help her….Don't let him win…He wants you to be weak and to give up…Fight for Lee…Let her know you care …She's ready to fight for you…" Cisco was holding his face and making him look into his eyes and would increase the pressure slightly when Johnny tried to turn away. He wasn't sure if he was doing the right thing but he had to try something to keep Johnny from slipping farther away. "John listen…Lee is crying…because of you…You promised her you'd never make her cry…That you would never make her sad again…Is that what you want? To break your promise to her? She trusts you not to hurt her or break your promise…"
Johnny didn't want to hear those words or hear her crying…It wasn't right…they didn't understand he had to go away. He had to go somewhere where he couldn't hurt her…where they wouldn't hurt her. He felt Cisco's arms around him pulling him into a bear hug and he heard the words…He wanted to believe the words but the fear was stronger.
Then he felt different arms and heard the different voice. The calm soothing voice…"It’s ok Junior, let it go…let go of the fear and the anger…It was ok to be angry at whoever hurt you…to be angry they hurt and scared Lee…It’s ok…we'll all help keep her safe…You don' have to fight this alone….Never alone…remember that…Lee promised you…we all did...You're never alone…"
It was if a giant suction pump had pulled all the air from the room…all feeling stopped… all the sounds…He was so tired…It would be so easy just to go away and stay hidden from all the hurt and worry…Then he felt her and heard her. "Please my love, don't go…let me help you…together we are stronger than this…I need you…please come back…let me and our family be your safe place…You're my safe place…"
He felt her tears on his skin and her breath on his face. He smelled the scent of her perfume…it was the one he got her because it smelled like wild flowers…"I can see you trying to come back…don't give up…don't give up on us…" He felt the grayness lifting and he felt the hands on his back and her holding his hands so tightly. He went limp and let them pull him back all the way. There was no fight left in him.
He felt someone lift him and put him on a bed. It wasn't his bed it didn't smell of Lee's perfume or lotion. But it was soft and warm and she was nearby talking to him telling him it was ok to sleep that she wasn't going to leave him.
Cisco and Hector moved the overstuffed chair next to the bed and Hector lifted her into it. She was sitting so she could touch him if he moved or was in distress. Roy was on the phone to Kelly Brackett then came back in.
"How is he?" He looked down at his sleeping friend. "His color is better and he seems to be breathing easier…" He said answering his own question. "Hector and Eddie'll clean the Rover…Cisco took the box."
"Do you think he would be mad if I had everything in it burned and crushed and just bought him a new one?" She was only half teasing.
"Yeah I do…He is pretty fond of it…" He pushed the hair back off his forehead. "He's gonna be fine…"
"He was going into withdrawal and I was so scared…because there wasn't anything I could do to help him…"
"You did fine…all of you did …he was close but I don't think he ever was completely gone…There wasn't any physical resistance … Doc said to call him and he'll bring over a shot if you think he needs it…"
"I don't…just tired…" He opened his eyes and looked at the two most important people in his world. "Went away?"
"You started to but you fought it…You did a good job of staying."
"Don't cry Baby girl…not 'cause of me" He turned so he was looking at her. "Never want to make you cry." He reached for her hand. "The box?"
"Cisco took it and Hector and Eddie are cleaning the Rover…"
"She wants to buy you a new one…What do ya think?"
"I think she's silly…nothing wrong with the one we got…."
"You need to sleep…unless you want a therapy session?" He saw the look he gave Lee. "Or we can do it later." It had been a couple of months since they had done a therapy session. The last one was after a run where two kids had been killed.
"If Roy would be so kind I need to go make a few phone calls." Roy pushed the chair over and helped her transfer. He resisted the urge to just pick her up and put her in the chair. But he understood she needed to do it herself to show Johnny and herself she was ok and could handle what was going on. She wheeled over to Johnny who sat up and she kissed him. "I love you and we are in this together…do you understand that, luv?"
"Yeah I do…Don't know why but I do know you love me …" He cupped his hand around her neck and pulled her closer as he kissed her again.
As she started out of the room she turned and looked at him. "Together…don't forget that part of it." She left the two alone… Johnny looking surprised and Roy looking amused.
"She is always gonna have the last word, Junior." Roy told him as he walked behind him. "Scoot back."
After Johnny was positioned comfortably Roy began the massaging techniques and talked softly as he did so. He applied more pressure to the neck and upper chest as he felt the muscles that were tight and knotted. Once he had begun to relax, Johnny turned onto his stomach and again Roy began working on his neck and shoulders.
"Roy, promise me something." Johnny said as he laid there…eyes closed. "If it’s a choice between keeping me safe and her…for any reason…She is always first." He let out a deep breath. "She doesn't have any way to protect herself or fight back."
"Oh she would fight but I understand what you're saying. That torn picture really has you shook."
"Yeah it does…you promise?"
"Yeah…I promise…but nothing is going to happen to her…Cisco and Hector are looking out for her and you know all the guys at the station will …"
"When I saw that puppy and now that box…I could hear my aunts and uncles…they always said it should have been me that died not my mom…That I killed her…she was never really healthy after I was born…and then she worked herself to death…" Johnny buried his face into the pillow then raised it again. "I thought all this was over that I had gotten past it…"
"John, it’s your past and that isn't gonna change…what changes is the way you handle it…You faced it and haven't let it destroy you…And you won't let this madman destroy you and Lee now…Just remember neither one of you is alone…you have each other and you have friends and family."
"Do you want me to have Jim bring some soup over?"
"No not tonight…I think we just need to be alone and try to get this all sorted out…Johnny is exhausted so hopefully once Roy is done he'll sleep for a couple of hours. I'm going to stay down here until he is ready to go up to our place…"
"If you need anything you call…And let Johnny know we love him…and that nothing anyone says about his heritage is going to make us love him any less."
"Kathy…you always know just the right thing to say…" They talked a few more minutes and then Roy came out into the kitchen. "He asleep?"
"Yeah…Lee is there any chance you can take a few days off from work? He is terrified for you to be there by yourself…not a bit worried about his own safety."
"That’s ok I'm scared enough for both of us….I'm just as worried about the emotional toll as the physical one…and if it will make it easier for him I'll stay home…but I'm Not going to New York or anywhere else."
"Didn't think you were. Actually I figure this is as far as you'll get t from him…" He smiled. "You want to go back in there?'
"You all did exactly right…kept him focused and knew what had set it off…and gave him some reassurance it was all going to be ok. And you agreed to stay home…that'll help…He doesn't want to call off he knows with this flu going around we're short on paramedics."
"There's one more thing you need to know…He's worried you'll think he's weak because of what happened and can't take care of you…That you'll be ashamed of him."
"Think if Cisco holds me up I can kick him in his cute little butt? Roy the first thing he did was make sure I was in the house safe…He is one of the bravest people I know…"
Roy couldn't help but laughing at her and her righteous indignation. "Wow, you know that and I know that…but right now he doesn't. Just keep telling him all the things you usually do. I think who ever did this made a major mistake."
"Two …Now its personal for Cisco…This is his parent's home…the home he grew up in. That’s even worse than crossing me…"
"I'm thinking it's about equal there…You call if you need anything."
Roy went out to his car and just as he was about to pull out a blond man in a black turtle neck sweater and dark pants and boots stepped out in front of him.
"Mr. DeSoto?' The accent was apparent the English flawless. "I am a friend of her Uncle Jeff…we work together….I was in the neighborhood on other business and he contacted me. He wanted you to know he is on his way here…and his associates are also watching over the situation. Our boss is very fond of Mrs. Gage. You may tell this to Lt. Alvarez but other than that please keep this information to yourself."
"Yeah sure…Thank you."
He had to figure out a way to get a message to The Girl to let her know someone was going to rescue her. Then she would be whole again and they would be together and join the chosen ones of the Elected…He would prove to all of those who said he was unfit. He would show them his grand ending would show them all what he could do….what he would do for the Holy Commander. The Girl would be his reward…He would claim her and when she was fully restored he would consider marriage…And if she could not be restored…he would keep her as a pet until he was tired of her…She would be proud to be his and to share the glorious path of the Elected Ones…
"For what sweetheart?" Lee asked from the recliner. "Do you need something?"
"For causing all this trouble…for putting you all in danger….Think I'll take a few days off and go camping."
"We always said we were gonna go again."
"But not when it's cold and damp…" He sat up. "And I am going alone." He looked around at the pleasant room. "Maybe you can stay with Kathy and Jim or go to Washington or New York."
"We have already been over this I am not going anywhere without you," she said. "There isn't anything you can say to change my mind."
"Ok…and sorry about ruining dinner with Kathy and Jim…." Trying to change the subject so she would not know he wasn't changing his mind just yet.
"I have a message for you from Kathy…she said to tell you they love you and nothing is gonna change that…"
"They're good people."
"So are you…Feeling well enough to go back upstairs? And by the way Mr. Gage I love you and I don't want to hear any more of this bull about you not being strong or brave or any negative out of your mouth. You are not responsible for another person's stupidity or cruelty…The Aspergers isn't your fault…Now the fact I am totally whole heartedly now and forever in love with you is totally your doing." She giggled. "Now do you want to go upstairs and I'll fix us something to eat or listen to the long, long list of reasons I love you and think you are the most wonderful person in the world?"
"Glad you feel that way…Bet my list for you is longer…Did you say something about food?"
"Yes she did but I have something already if you're up to eating?" Maria came into the room.
"Do I smell your pork and dressing?" Johnny gave her a full Gage smile. "Thanks for taking care of us again."
"John again I tell you … you are family…You have a very hard head when it comes to understanding that. I think in your heart you know it…So if there isn't any more questions I will finish putting dinner on the table."
"Hector and Eddie took it to clean it…Eddie got it all dirty when he brought you into the house…it’s not dry yet…He had to scrub it down. You two stay put until dinner is on the table…" She gave them each a kiss on the forehead and went to finish putting the meal on the table. A few minutes later Hector came into the room. "Johnny, can you bring her to the table or would you rather I carried her?"
"I can do it…but it’s good to know that if I couldn't you'd all be there for her." Lee knew there was more to that statement than just this trip to the dinner table. Giving Hector a smile she snuggled up closer as Johnny carried her to the table. After they all joined hands and said the blessing they ate and talked and laughed over the stories Hector told about Lee as a young child and teenager. By the time they were ready to go up to their apartment the chair had dried enough for her to sit in it.
"Johnny… are you going to work in the morning?" Hector asked as they walked to the elevator.
"No not till Tuesday….Just gonna hang around the house."
"Hey sweet pea what’s the chances of a hungry man getting breakfast?" Jeff said. She quickly opened the door. They hugged and he gave her a kiss on her forehead.
"Johnny is having waffles and eggs and bacon…what can I fix you?" Lee was so glad to see him. "They are corn waffles but I can fix you regular ones." Johnny had come out when he heard Jeff's voice.
"I love your corn waffles…with soft poached eggs…Johnny can we talk about this mess?"
"Yeah…I keep racking my brains trying to figure out who or why…This just started out of nowhere…haven't had any run ins with anybody."
Lee gave Jeff a mug of coffee. "Johnny needs to concentrate on his work and safety not worrying about me…but I won't leave."
"I know sweet pea have to understand its not going to be easy for either one of you…and if you did leave that that probably wouldn't change anything… This nut is going after Johnny because of his heritage…and he may have decided you're a target because of some twisted reasoning."
Lee brought him a plate. "You'll never see them unless there is a problem but I have people watching you both.…Johnny, she is going to be well taken care of…so you can concentrate on your job…that will make her a lot happier and we all know that life is easier for everyone when she is happy." Jeff teased and was glad they both recognized it as that.
"Are you saying I'm hard to get along with?" She smiled and leaned over and kissed Johnny. "I maybe hard headed but I'm not hard to get along with, am I?"
"No …you aren't but you have your opinions and make them known…which is really a good thing…And I wouldn't change the way you are…but you need to remember I worry about you as much as you worry about me. And sometimes the fact you are in that chair is going to complicate things…But that chair is not what defines you….never has and never will. Understand? But we know that if this nut does come after you are at a disadvantage so we have to make sure that doesn't happen." He was very calm and very serious and for the first time since this started Lee understood. He did trust her and he did still see her not her disability. That is what she had been fighting against not his wanting her safe.
"Whatever you and Jeff need me to do that is what I'll do… Now you better get to work before you get latrine duty for being late…"
"If I'm late it’s ok…as long as I know you're ok. I'm sorry if I made you feel like I didn't trust you or believe in you. I was so afraid for you…Now you enjoy your day with your uncle." He kissed her long and deeply. He shook hands with Jeff and grabbed up his duffle bag and extra uniforms and was gone.
"So everything ok, junior?" Roy asked as Johnny was putting the equipment away,
"Jeff is here, he's with her. I need to talk to Cap…wanna come along? Did you talk to him about the other day?"
"Sure…I'll go in with ya…and yeah I did talk to him…but he isn't gonna say anything…"
Cap was getting coffee. "Uhm Cap, I need to talk to you…in private."
"By private I take it you mean the three of us," Cap answered as they went to the office. "Shut the door, John. Ok, what's up?"
"Lee's uncle Jeff came in this morning…He brought some friends…unless there is a problem we won't know they are around."
"Just what does Jeff do?"
"Well, it’s hard to explain …officially he consults on security issues for a variety of businesses….and government agencies. But people don't really acknowledge that he is doing it. Or the people being watched don't know it…here and all over the world…I know Lee said he was in London a few weeks ago working with an old friend in MI-5"
"So it sounds like the heavy hitters are watching out…"
"Plus Cisco…it was his home ground …And it hurt his Little One…as he calls Lee when he is feeling very protective." Johnny said with a smile. "They take good care of her."
"So do you Junior. Think he was a little upset about his mijo too." Roy said grinning. "He calls you his brother in law."
Roy and Cisco had talked one night about Johnny and Lee and how they brought out the protective streak in both of them. Cisco had made a point of saying he knew that he'd never be Johnny's brother but he was glad they were friends and family and included Roy and his family into the Alvarez family.
"I just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn't putting anyone in danger with my being here and how much Lee and I appreciated your support and help the other day……You and all the guys were great."
"Roy, I'm gonna lower him ….don't think this thing is gonna hold much longer…take too much time getting back…too slippery…" Throwing a rope expertly over one of the beams that crisscrossed the ceiling Johnny soon had a safety line set up and began the slow careful task of lowering the man to the floor.
The firemen on the ground floor did their job with well oiled precision as always. They had him lowered and were just getting ready to lower Johnny when one section of the cat walk pulled away from the wall. The jerking caused Johnny to lose his balance and his head slammed into the wall. The pain rippled through his body especially his shoulder. But the safety belt held as did the rope and his friends were quick to lower him to safety.
"Junior you just park it until I get this done." Roy said as Johnny started over to where he and the first man were. Johnny stopped surprised at the tone of voice his partner used with him. He sounded angry. Why would Roy be angry with him? He had done everything by the book. He had followed all the proper procedures. He sat down on an old crate.
He watched as Roy and Marco got the vitals and relayed them to Rampart. Other than a slight headache, he felt fine. He should be helping Roy not just sitting here.
"John you're going into Rampart and get checked out…Ride in with Roy…Chet or Marco'll bring the squad in." Cap told him in his usual no nonsense manner. "Call if I need a replacement."
Kel finished his exam and was relieved to find nothing seriously wrong with his friend. "You been swimming with Lee?"
"Yeah a few times at the rehab center or rec pool."
"Your left ear is looking a little red…might be the start of an ear infection. That would explain why you got dizzy this afternoon. If it starts hurting or you start running a temp come on back in. Otherwise, you're fine…except for a bruised shoulder. Avoid high places for a few days…If you can't be extra careful and use your safety equipment."
"Thanks doc, I will. When you and Dixie coming to dinner? Lee's been reading some new cookbooks…"
The ride back to the station was quiet and strained. Johnny was still hurt and confused about the way Roy had acted before at the scene. As they pulled into the bay. "Ok, you still mad at me?"
"Why would I be mad at you?" Roy asked really not sure what his partner was talking about
"Fine…don't tell me…I give up." He took a deep breath. "Think I'll just gather up my gear and go be a hermit in the mountains…then nobody will have to worry about me or their safety…"
"Don't think Lee is the mountain hermit type…and you ain't gonna go anywhere without her." Roy said trying to calm his partner down to find out why he was so upset. "Even if she would let you."
"Very funny." He wasn't ready to calm down, in fact he was just getting more frustrated. "Either you trust me to do my job or replace me…"
"I trust you with my life every shift and you know that." Roy was getting defensive then he realized the problem. "Look, I think I over reacted back at the accident site. When I saw you hanging like that…I flashed back to the dog in your locker. Look, this bigoted idiot isn't gonna hurt my little brother if I have anything to say about it…Jeff, Cisco, Cap and the guys…we all are watching your back…and Lee's."
"Guess I am a little on edge with this whole thing. Before it was just me and it didn't matter what happened to me.…Now it’s hurting Lee and you…What if he did something like that when the kids were around? Or followed us to your house?"
Cap had been waiting for them to come back into the station and the longer they sat out in the squad the more he worried. He got a cup of coffee then went out to check on them. "There a problem I need to know about?" He was standing next to the passenger side window.
"No, just trying to make sense of all this…" He looked down a t his feet, embarrassed. "Cap ya know I would never do anything to embarrass the department."
"Son, they aren't embarrassed by this they're mad as hell." Seeing the shocked look on Johnny's face and realizing Johnny totally misunderstood his meaning. "Not at you, you twit…at whoever is doing this to you and Lee."
"Thanks Cap I was just trying to get that through his thick skull….Now I don't know about you Junior but I'm hungry."
"There is chili and cornbread and pineapple upside down cake that Lee had Eddie deliver. "Said there would be more things coming…and stuff for the freezer for all shifts to use."
"She cooks when she is bored or worried…Was one of the few things she could do that first year after the accident."
"Hey Cap, we gonna eat tonight?" Chet called from the doorway. The three men knew it wasn't rudeness that kept him from coming over but the fact he was giving the three some privacy.
"Think we better get in here before they attack that cake…and you call her to let her know you're fine." Cap said as her headed back to the kitchen.
"And Eddie said she was still cooking when he left…something about a pineapple pie for Cap to take home."
"She can make me one of her coconut macaroon pies," Chet added. "That’s even better than her walnut banana cake with caramel icing."
"What about you Mike?" Johnny said smiling much to the relief of Roy and Cap. "What are you ordering?"
"Plain and simple her honey wheat bread…Makes the best toast in the world."
"Roy's ordering a carrot cake with cream cheese icing," Johnny said. "I know that’s his favorite especially when she has black walnuts. Marco? I'd guess the blond no bakes or her peanut butter fudge."
"If this cake wasn't so great I'd agree but think I have a new favorite."
"What about you pal? What is your favorite?" Cap asked thinking it was either going to be her pecan pie or the triple layer pineapple cake.
"Whatever she made that day," Johnny said with a grin, "But especially her chocolate chip walnut cookies right out of the oven." Soon they were all comparing what their favorite desserts were from wives and mothers and what had been a stressful day ended on a pleasant note.
The SCU tones woke everyone at 02:45. The alarms seemed to go on forever as stations and squads were called out in the early morning cold and fog. There were 3 other engines there when Station 51 reached the seedy neighborhood.
The long street of connected storefronts looked like a scene out of a horror movie as the flames danced and jumped along the block. The scene became even more terrifying as a store front church's front windows exploded sending glass and debris showering down on the police, firemen and bystanders.
Roy and John were soon busy doing triage. After about 30 minutes, Cap came over to them. "We need you to switch places with the guys from 36...they've been in and out a half dozen times." It had been decided they couldn't spare the paramedics to stand down so by switching them they could perhaps avoid smoke and heat exhaustion as quickly.
There seemed to be a series of explosions working its way down the street. The first building they went into had been a pawnshop. Two firefighters had been caught in a ceiling collapse. Working quickly Johnny and Roy were able to get them out and over to triage. The fact it was so late at night probably was the saving grace…The injuries to the fire and law enforcement personnel were mostly minor…the worst being a skull fracture and some broken ribs a linesman from 110 had received when a wall collapsed .
It was 09:15 when engine 51 was released back to the station. John decided he was going on home to shower, afraid if he waited to use the one at the station he would fall asleep driving. He'd use the shower in the changing room. It wasn't fancy but it was functional. He called the apartment.
"Gage residence." The voice wasn't familiar and Johnny didn't respond trying to remember if he had heard it before. "Gage residence. May I help you?"
"Yeah this is John Gage…is Lee or Jeff there?" Getting a little concerned.
"Of course Mr. Gage…Just a moment please."
"Hi sweetie…Sorry about that…Jeff isn't letting me answer the phone…I was watching the news…Everyone from 51 ok?"
"Yep …One of the guys from 110 has a skull fracture and broken ribs but Doc said he'd be good in a few weeks. I'm on the way home…Can you put some clean clothes down in the changing room? I think we took them all back upstairs when we closed the pool."
"No problem…you gonna want to eat or sleep?"
"Sleep more than anything…Love ya. See you soon."
When they had redone the apartment for Lee after the wreck they had done some remodeling down stairs as well. They had created a combination storage and bathroom area that opened out to the pool.
Actually, it served two purposes. If Hector and Eddie came in from work really dirty they cleaned up in there and that bathroom was fitted with handicapped friendly fixtures and was easy for Lee to get in and out of when she was downstairs doing her water exercises or just hanging out with them.
They had also made the door frames from the hall way into the main living area wider and the opening into the kitchen area wider just as they had upstairs. They had added a small utility building just inside the privacy fence they had installed after the wreck replacing the chain link fence that had been there since Maria and Hector had first moved in.
The quiet residential area was a nice mix of private homes and apartment buildings and had been a nice place to raise kids. Many of the older residents were friends of Maria and Hector and knew they were always available to help if needed. Hector did the lawns of many of the older homeowners free.
He did the lawns of several of the apartment buildings since they were WBS buildings. Johnny pulled into the parking lot and slowly started up to the back gate. He was tired and achy and just wanted to sleep for a week. He used his key to get into the patio area. It looked so bare without the furniture and some of the flowering plants. Once in the changing room he hit the intercom.
"Yes?" Jeff's voice came thru.
"Tell Lee I'm in the changing room and getting ready to shower…And thanks for the clean clothes."
"Ok …She is fixing you some toast and hot chocolate."
Fifteen minutes later Johnny went upstairs. He had quickly washed off the sweat and smoke and grime but had stood under the hot water just letting it beat some of the aches and pains from his body. As he got out of the shower he realized that now that he was clean and relaxed he was hungry. If he was lucky Lee may have made him some of her special cinnamon toast…If not some toast and homemade jam sounded good too.
He was humming a song from the radio as he went towards the elevator.
"You sound happy." Eddie said as he came out of the apartment.
"Three days off and Saturday's party for Sam and Thanh…Lee has been looking forward to this for a few weeks…She 's been helping Mary Kate and Anna with the details…Ya know that girl loves planning parties." Hey laughed then went on upstairs after hitting the doorbell.
Lee met him at the door. She had been worried about him after watching the news all morning. She looked him over inspecting him for any injuries. Other than looking tired, he passed inspection. He bent down and kissed her… his hand cupping her neck pulling them closer. "That is what I needed most." He said as he stood up straight. "You doing ok?"
"Now that you're home…" She had a tight hold on his hand. "There's cinnamon toast and hot chocolate and then you're going to sleep …Hours of good sleep not a short nap, ok?"
"Yeah now about that toast and hot chocolate?" They went in to the kitchen Jeff went back into his room where he was working.
"I didn't think I was hungry until I started to eat," he said as he took another bite. "After I get some sleep is there anywhere you need to go?"
"Maybe the office for a little while…if you feel like it. And I need to do some shopping…"
"Going a little stir crazy being home all the time?" Johnny said as he finished the toast and hot chocolate.
"Sorry baby girl." All the laughter had went out of his voice and eyes. "I know it’s hard but God, I can't even think of you being in danger because you love a half breed…"
"John Roderick Gage if you ever use that term again I swear I'll wash your mouth out with soap! I will not listen to you or anyone else say such hateful things to you…or about you…" She was so mad and even more horrified to realize she had almost raised her hand to slap him in the face. "Johnny please…don't…it's not your fault…You can't be blamed for someone else's actions…Don't let this creep hurt us anymore." She started towards the bedroom. "I don't know about you but I could use some good ole fashion cuddling…and a long nap."
"Always happy to oblige a lady." He quickly got behind her and pushed the chair into the bedroom shutting the door. Lee giggled as he made sure the intercom was not only turned off but disconnected and turned on the radio to a soft jazz station.. Jeff watched the two disappear into the bedroom knowing it would be hours before he saw them. That made it easier for him to get back to work knowing they both were safe. He had people watching the apartment house and no one would get near it without being under observation.
The small radio he had beeped. "Spenser."
"There's a box down 'ere ya need to check …some very interesting odds and ends." The British accent thicker than usual and with a cheeky teasing quality. "Our friend's getting careless or spooked…"
Jeff was ready to get this over with. He had made a promise when Lee was 16 and in the hospital begging for them to let her die that no one was ever going to hurt her like that again. He still saw the hurt and fear and hopelessness of those days in his nightmares. He never wanted to see that hopelessness in her eyes again. He went down stairs making sure the apartment door was locked and the elevator was locked also. He knocked on Maria and Hector's door. Hector answered after looking out the peephole.
"They found a box…Want to come check it out?"
Just inside the fence was a cardboard box. It was battered and beaten and had some stains from leaking liquids. It was an odd assortment ---several packages of water balloons, hair dryers, old dried out rags with a lingering chemical odor…and rags with dried blood.
The box its self wasn't anything different from what you would find out behind most grocery stores or small businesses. After giving Hector a pair of gloves like he had put on Jeff began going thru the box…Hector noticed the man standing near them but didn't say anything, figuring if Jeff had something to say to him he would.
"Mark, did anyone see who might have left this? Or have any idea how long it's been here?"
"No one's been inside this area that wasn't on your list since we got 'ere,"
"What' with the cockney accent Slate?"
"Ya see there was this bird at the club and she seemed to think it made me even more interesting…and since you wanted me to see if your hunch was right…I thought I'd be my most charming and keep 'er talking."
"And did your charming conversation lead to anything interesting?" Jeff never looked up from the items in the box but did frown at the oily texture when he had taken a glove off briefly.
"Just that there is this one bloke who always seems to be hanging around and later there always seems to be a fire."
"Description?" Jeff was suddenly more interested.
"She called him a blob…someone who was taking up space for no good reason."
"Lissa K….like you said Mr. Waverly is fond of Lee…"
"Hector, you notice anything different around here? Anything moved?"
"Just some plants tramped on… know none of us did it." There was an undertone of anger in his voice.
"Especially this one. Don't tell Lee…I'll replant it and hopefully she won't know the difference."
"What makes that one so special?"
"That was faerie rose bush Johnny gave her for her birthday…She planted it there 'cause I told her it would be well protected…She sat on the ground and dug the hole after he started it for her…Said that as long as that bush grew and survived everyone would see how much they loved each other…it was stepped on and then whatever was leaking out of that box killed it…Gas or other oil based mixture from the feel of the soil…"
"I'll call Cisco and have his lab take care of this half of the evidence…Hector, you and Eddie check out your storage shed…This blob as Mark called him has met his match…"
"He better hope it’s not one of us that gets our hands on him." Hector wasn't as tall as either Jeff or his sons but years of hard work had made him stronger than most men half his age. "Lee babied that little plant until we could get it set out…Johnny wanted something special for her first birthday together."
"There isn't any hope?"
"No…the ground around it is poisoned…the roots are dead."
"Then we make sure we don't tell her…I don't want her any more stressed and hurt…but why am I preaching to the choir?"
"Because you're as frustrated and mad as the rest of us…And scared for her…I think that Johnny is more afraid for her than himself."
"That’s what worries me…that he'll do something to try to protect her with no regard to his own safety."
Jeff said looking at the dead plant. "I saw what her Uncle Matt was like when Susan died…They had been married 5 years and she went into premature labor when she was home alone…He was working overtime…By the time they got her to the hospital it was too late…She had hemorrhaged to the point they couldn't save either one of them…That was about a year before Lee was born…I remember Carolynne worrying about him…He worked 80 hours a week …Didn't want to go back to that empty apartment…that would be either one of those two without the other…"
"If not worse…"
Lee was fixing breakfast when Johnny came out into the kitchen he frowned. "Something the matter luv?"
"I never got to Nana's Garden this week…" He kissed her on the neck. "Forgive me?"
"You have nothing to be forgiven for, silly man….The bacon is in the oven…what else would you like?"
"Fried eggs and pancakes…" He sat down on one of the counter stools and drank coffee as she fixed the pancakes and fried the eggs. "Jeff already eat?"
"Yep he left a note said not to worry he'd be back soon…Think he wanted to give us some time alone…" Lee said not liking where this was headed.
"Honey I am so sorry I got you into this…"
"Johnny stop it, please…just stop it…We have been over this so many times and each time we say the same things…I know we can't just ignore it…but I am tired of it being the only thing that in our heads…and hearts…I’m tired of the fear being the strongest emotion in our lives…I want this over and us back to being us and laughing and not knowing every move we make is being watched."
"Hopefully not every move," remembering earlier that morning. "I'm sorry I am trying to be serious about this."
She had rolled her eyes at him. "But you said it yourself we can't live in this fear…Now when breakfast is over we are going to the flower shop and then run our errands and Saturday we are going to a party…To celebrate life and love…"
"Yes sir," She looked at him knowing whatever they faced it would be together. And we would be kidding ourselves if we didn't know we had a shadow…But as long as they respect the closed door we are ok with that right?"
"Yes…Because nothing is more important than you being safe…" she finished fixing his breakfast then after a quick shower they went off on their errands.
"So what do you have for me? Good news I hope."
"A mix of fact and speculation…Who ever came up with this is one sicko…Its really ingenious…He puts a mixture of accelerants into a the balloon and then positions it so the hair dryer heats it until it explodes. The balloon and hair dryer are destroyed or found in a place it’s not unusual to find them so no one notices…A timer can be set to turn the hair dryer on so the bomber is miles away safe when it happens."
"Except someone this sick would want to see and be near to hear the reaction of the crowd." Jeff rubbed his neck stretching. "I'll check with Cisco and see if his people have anything in their files about similar devices….I keep thinking there is something I should remember. Something important."
"Illya said he was at your home the other day and impressed how Lee and Johnny's friends were supporting them…many in this type of situation find themselves friendless out of fear."
"Johnny wanted to go away so none of his friends or family were in danger…They all refused to let him…especially Lee and Roy and his captain." He even called his friend Sam and explained why he wouldn't be coming to the party. That was an interesting conversation…He was speaking Yiddish but I think the gist of it was Gage you're a damn fool. You could hear him screaming at Johnny when John held the phone away from his ear."
"I'd like to meet Lee and Johnny…when this is over before we go back to New York."
"If that doesn't happen they are going to be in New York before the holidays I think…Matt probably won't be able to get off at Christmas…so they are planning on visiting…Lee loves New York at the holidays…We would go there since it was easier for us to travel than Matt…we'd stay at a hotel down town and she'd go ice skating and we'd shop and see the windows and decorations…We'd go to midnight mass with the Russo's and then to Christmas day dinner…Even if the guys were working they'd take their lunch hour at the Russo's…it was an open house type day any of the guys from the station that were working came there for dinner or a snack…When she was older Lee would go help Maria…Me and my friends were her west coast family…Matt and his guys were her east coast family…After the accident it was harder but we did it…She even learned to travel on her own…We'd ship her luggage so all she had to deal with was a small carry on…"
"Sounds like a pretty resourceful young lady…Illya was impressed by her when she came to New York when you first came…"
"Yeah he compared her to you." Lissa blushed. "Said you two were the same formidable women of beauty intelligence and determination."
"So what are you plans for the day?" Jeff asked pouring himself another cup of coffee.
"After I finish cleaning the kitchen we need to go shopping…my hair dryer was making a funny noise yesterday and today it’s just putting out cold air…And the extra one is making the same funny whirring noise." Jeff heard this and something clicked at the back of his mind.
They finished eating and with Johnny's help they quickly got the kitchen cleaned. She went into change clothes and Johnny watched Jeff looking thru a folder, concentrating hard.
"You sure it's safe for her to be out?"
"Yes…or you wouldn't be going out. Go on enjoy your day off…I think she has some shopping plans…I think I heard a new dress mentioned? "
He had it all planned and a perfect place to do her redemption…while everyone was busy trying to save that tainted building he would bring her to a safe place and fix her…Make her whole and fit to be an Elected One…The Holy Commander had said that it was the duty of all the Elected ones to save those who were worthy of saving,,, The harlots and the broken ones could be made clean again if they believed.
No more small explosions in many several places but one to destroy the den of unbelievers…Once the others saw the power of the Holy Commander they would believe and join his Path as the Elected ones who would rid the world of the mongrels, harlots and the evils of the drugs and alcohol….The unbelievers would die…
Lee and Johnny's wedding had been over the top as all had been insistent she have the dream fairy tale wedding she had wanted from the time she was 12 until the wreck had put her in the wheelchair.
They couldn't give her back the dream of walking down the staircase at Amos's home with Jeff and Matt but had replaced it with an even better reality of walking up to Johnny in a beautiful garden. With Matt and Jeff supporting her except for the last few steps when she walked into Johnny's waiting arms. Lee was thinking about that day as she sat there brushing her hair. As was his habit Johnny was lying on the bed watching her.
"Nothing I like watching more….What were you thinking about? The expression on your face was almost like a painting of an angel. Like the ones we saw in the museum." He remembered Chet laughing when he had told him that he was going to the art museum on his day off a few weeks ago. He hadn't told Lee or Roy about it knowing they would just have gotten angry with their friend.
'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. She still trying to civilize ya?" Lee and Chet had started out on bad footing and sometimes Johnny thought they hadn't really made much progress in the last six months. It seemed as if every time they made progress something would set it back. Usually when Chet said something that Lee took too seriously.
"About you and our wedding…Sam and Thanh's is going to be in the ballroom…She said that every week end in June and July is booked at Rose Hill… and most are having the food catered by them also…Nana said she should start giving us a discount for all the referrals. Did you decide what you were wearing?'
"Yeah whatever you lay out for me. No tie please."
"Ok in honor of the upcoming Valentine Day…how about your black dress pants, red shirt and your new white sweater… Sound ok?"
"Am I going to look good enough to be seen with you? That’s all that matters to me…Ya know there is some stress and responsibility being with the most beautiful girl in the room…" His eyes were laughing as she blushed.
"You are so full of the blarney me boyo…There's an Irishman somewhere in that gene pool…" she laughed and finished her makeup. Her hair was up like he liked it and she had used a deeper wine colored lipstick than usual. "Ok, I need my black skirt…The one on the top bar. I was going to wear something else but decided on this one…It’s a wool blend and warmer…and mid length so if it rains it won't drag in the water…Are you driving the rover tonight?"
"If that’s ok with you…It is suppose to rain…but not until later…"
"Thank you for not trying to tell me we couldn't go to this party." She watched his face and knew he had thought about it. "Thank you for loving me and trusting me enough to make my own decisions.”
"Do you know how many men would have no clue about an anniversary like that? That is so amazing…"
She didn't mention she had something special planned for that day. They finished dressing and went out to talk with Jeff.
"You went into your room looking like a 12 year old tom boy and come out like someone ready to walk the red carpet….you have your mom's earrings on…She'd be so proud of the way you look…And her dad would totally approve of you, Johnny." He looked up at the painting of his brother and sister in law. "He was a good big brother even after we were busy with college and his being a Marine officer…I talked to the doctor over in Paris and told him I would take good care of you sweet pea…the doctor called me back later and said Bill told him he knew that…Hey don't cry you'll mess up those pretty eyes…You know you get those green eyes from your grandma Spencer. Go have a good time at your party." He went out to the car with them. "That shawl goes good with your outfit…"
"And so much easier than a coat…" He gave her a quick kiss and lifted her into the rover. Johnny put the chair in the back and after making sure she had her seat belt on they left.
Jeff saw a car pull out from the parking lot across the street and assumed it was one of his agents.
Softly and unnoticed the man crumbled onto the ground between cars. He knew where the mongrel and the girl were going…The party for the unbeliever and his harlot…That cursed building would burn cleansing the land and destroying the hold the mongrel had over the girl.
She had looked more beautiful than ever…Her hair fixed like in the picture…the clothing she wore modest and chaste…She would come to him thankful for her redemption and he would present her to the Holy Commander as his proof of his worthiness…Earlier he had set the propane tanks and the devices to ignite them around the building…It would be the biggest fire yet… All the others had been old broken down buildings full of people no one would miss. This time it was a new grand building with fine furnishings. And important people. And while they were busy with that he would get the girl… He followed the rover but he knew where they were going…
The community rooms were in a building a short distance behind the synagogue. There was no close parking even the handicap spots were a not close. Johnny parked and went around to the back of the rover to get the chair out. He didn't notice the figure standing nearby so intent on getting Lee inside as quick as possible. He had just closed the rover's back door when he heard someone shout his name. It was Charlie Dwyer and Doug Stone two of his paramedic friends.
"Looking pretty sharp there Gage, Lee dresses you well," teased Doug. "You used to think clean jeans without holes was dressing up."
"Hey I gotta look presentable now…Wouldn't want to embarrass the beautiful lady I'm escorting to this party." He took the chair around to the passenger's side. Lee had heard him laughing and was relieved they weren't going thru the parking lot alone. That creepy being watched feeling was back. With ease he lifted her and got her settled in the chair. Getting a thank you kiss as always.
"You weren't kidding about the beautiful lady. If you ever get tired of hanging out with him," Charlie said as they started towards the building, "Call me…"
"Don't think that is gonna happen Charlie…I like him a little more each day," Lee answered turning to look at him. "He makes my heart smile so I guess I better keep him."
"Yeah sounds like it. Look at it this way Dwyer, if someone like Gage can get someone like Lee to fall in love with him…we're a shoo in to find someone great too." Doug was really glad to see Johnny and her so happy.
They went as a group into the community center's large reception room. Sam and Thanh were standing near the windows talking with a group of people from the hospital. They made their way over to them. Thanh had on a lovely Vietnamese style dress and looked like radiant.
Sam leaned down and kissed Lee. "Thank you so much…This is so much more than I expected…My mom and Mary Kate said you did a lot of the ground work…"
"Thanh deserves this and so do you…" Jacob and Anna came over to them. "Jacob, I am so glad you're feeling better. Can't wait till we start our lessons again."
"Soon as this wedding is over…My time will be mine again…Now I am Anna's errand boy…"
"And loving every minute of it…Anna you and Mary Kate have done such an amazing job decorating…"
"We were able to get as twice as many flowers as we planned…something about a special discount…Just what do you know about that young lady?" Anna said knowing that Lee had arranged it with Nana. "After the party they will go to the hospital and to a nursing home…many of the ladies there have outlived their families or they have moved so far away.. So we try to make sure they get little reminders they are not forgotten."
"That is wonderful…Oh did Johnny tell you I have been making your challah bread? He loves it…toasted with jam or honey especially. I made some for Maria and Hector and have sent some to the station…"
"What a good wife you are to that young man…He and his friend were so kind and thoughtful when they helped Jacob and Samuel. Jacob said your station 51 were all so quick and helped get that terrible smell out of the house…I want to thank them. They are coming, yes?" Her European accent becoming a little more pronounced as she became more emotional. "And the others who saved Samuel's home? I sent them an invitation"
"I know Roy and Jo are coming tonight. You remember you met them at my birthday party…Not sure about the others…Being at home most of the week I have not kept up with everyone. Been really lazy."
Jacob, Sam and Johnny were talking with others as Lee and Anna talked. Soon they were seated at one of the tables with Roy and Jo, Cap and Em. Sam had laughed saying even at a party the A shift family gathered as a unit. Soon they were joined by Marco and Chet. (Mike had a family party with Melissa's family.) Lee noticed that Chet seemed unusually quiet but wasn't going to ask. They ate and laughed and for awhile just enjoyed being with friends.
"She's leaning to the right taking the weight off that left hip…Damn, she took her seat belt off." Roy was surprised he had never heard Johnny sound angry at anything Lee did. The anger was in his voice and his expression.
They watched as Mary Kate left to talk with some others. Roy looked around and saw Jo coming back to the table where Lee and Em were with cups of punch. Maybe if the others were with her Johnny would have better control of his anger. The three men made their way over to their wives.
"Em, you about ready to head home? Seems like that alarm goes off earlier every shift." Roy sent a grateful smile to Cap, knowing if he suggested it was getting late maybe Lee would agree it was time to go.
"Yes dear, I just need to say something to Anna and Mary Kate." They walked away.
"What's the big idea taking the seat belt off? And why didn't you tell me you were hurting?" Soon as he said it he regretted the tone of voice he used. The surprised and hurt look in her eyes melted all his anger.
"If I had said anything you would have insisted we go home….And I was only going to leave the belt off for a minute or two." She looked at him smiling but the hurt still in her eyes. "I was going to put it back on before I moved again, honest."
He squatted down in front of her. "I'm sorry, honestly. I wasn't mad it worries me when you aren't belted in. I worry about you because I love you so much, ok? Don't be mad at me, please?" The look in his eyes told her how bad he felt for his tone and words.
"How could I be mad at you for loving me? Come on lets go home…You have to work in the morning…and so do I."
While she had enjoyed her friends there had been something bothering her all evening long…that creepy something was gonna happen feeling had never left her . Roy and Johnny talked a minute then Roy went to find Jo. It was time they got home also. Duty would call early in the morning.
As they went down the corridor to the main hallway Lee realized for the first time Johnny's footsteps echoed. They turned the corner to the main hallway and went up to the double glass doors. "Wait here and I'll pull up to the front of the synagogue then come back for you."
"No, I'll go to the car with you. I don't want to wait by myself." She shivered. "I forgot my shawl…I think it’s on the bench by the window…Where Mary Kate and Anna and I were talking."
Jeff was re reading the reports from the fires and suddenly he could hear Lee in his head telling him her hair dryer wasn't working right…It was making a whirring noise. He flipped thru the pages until he found the report on the fire at Sam's house. A hair dryer had been found in the stair well and in the box they had found on the patio. Maybe they were looking at this backward. Johnny and Lee weren't the first targets. Before he could act on this new information his radio beeped. "Spencer."
"Jeff, we just found Mark unconscious between two cars…He missed the check in and we went looking for him."
"Call Cisco I'm on my way to the synagogue…"
"Wait here I'll be right back." He gave her a quick kiss and was off at a hurried pace. She smiled as she watched him even when he was scolding her she knew it was from love. She watched the lightening as it played across the sky and hoped who ever Jeff had watching them was somewhere dry if not warm.
She heard someone moving in the hallway but it didn't sound like Johnny's steps. "Don't be silly," she told herself. "There are other people coming and going. There is nothing to be afraid of." She watched the lightening and tried to get her fears under control.
"Thought you left." Roy said as John came into the reception room.
"Lee forgot her new shawl; the one Jeff got her in Ireland." Johnny said as he looked around. It was on the bench by the window just as she had thought. "Man, I can't believe the way I snapped at her." They were walking over to the window. "It would have served me right if she had gotten mad. That’s probably why she forgot her shawl, I rushed her."
"Junior, have either one of you been mad at the other for more than 5 minutes?" Roy laughed at the face Johnny made. "Come on I'll walk out to the parking lot with you. Jo is saying her goodbyes."
"Yeah once when I was an idiot and asked her to go dancing…that was bad enough. Want to get her into the rover before this rain starts up again." Roy knew how bad that experience had been for both of them.
"See, if she'd forgive you for that she'll forgive you anything," Roy joked. Johnny gave him one of those ' oh you think that's funny ' looks he usually reserved for Chet. "Seriously I don't think you two know how to be mad at each other without making yourselves more miserable."
"I mean we don't always agree on everything…but we respect the others right to their own opinion…She doesn't like sports but she never says I can't watch it on TV…and I don't like Brussels sprouts but I don't complain when she cooks them for her…even if they do stink. And she never complains about the guys coming over all the time…well except for Chet putting his feet on the table with his shoes on. But even then she does it nicely."
Lee could hear them laughing as they came from the side hallway into the main lobby area. Everything would be ok now, all the fears and creepy feelings were just her imagination.
"You two seem to be having fun," she said as they came into view.
"Roy was telling me about Jen and Stacy's latest conversation concerning big brothers." Johnny said as he handed her the shawl. "Is there a finder's fee?" He bent down closer and kissed her, her hand coming up instinctively cupping his neck pulling him closer.
"Will that due as a down payment?" Lee looked at him smiling slightly. "Fireman/paramedic De Soto will promise me you'll keep this one out of trouble tomorrow?"
"Now you know I don't make promises I can't keep…but I will promise to try." Roy assured her.
"How very touching…a mongrel and his friends." A man moved out of the doorway that none had noticed.
"You have an amazing ability to blind these deceived Ones to your true nature, mongrel." George was furious. The girl had actually been encouraging the mongrel to touch her and had enjoyed it when he did.
She had deceived him and almost cost him the last chance he had at redemption. "The Holy Commander tells us we should return the lost to Him but I think your corruption has went too deep…These were Elected Ones born to follow the Holy Commander but you, soiled them. The corruption of your soul has stripped them of all …" He raised his hand so they could see the gun he was pointing at them. Johnny moved quickly so he was standing between Lee and the gun.
"What a touching and useless gesture…Protecting your harlot … Do you care he has deceived you and stolen your right to walk with the Holy Commander? Has he made your soul as defective as your body? He has hurt you and I came to rescue you from that. Is it too late or can you still be saved? Come prove to me you are not totally beyond saving. This mongrel and his corrupted helper they stopped the cleansing fire that would have engulfed and purified my home after the Unclean Ones and the mongrel harlot defiled it. They and their kind have tried to stop the cleansing fires of the Holy Commander as He would reclaim the city from the corrupted. He is a destroyer sent to test the true believers who would follow the path to the Holy Commander's feet. Come in here away from the prying eyes of others so we may begin." He waited expecting them to move quickly.
"Ok…just don't hurt them." Johnny took the brake off Lee's chair and pushed her into the small room. Roy followed then George who went in quickly closing the door. "Look just let them go and I'll do whatever you want. They never did anything to you or your commander." Johnny said as he was putting Lee's brakes on. He was doing that to have an excuse to bend close to her. Very softly he whispered to her. "Don't fight him…stay safe please." He had seen the anger in her eyes and the way she had stiffened as the psycho had ranted and raved.
"I want you two to move away from her…over by the desk…I don't want to hurt you, I want to help you…"
As the two men had backed away from Lee George had moved closer. "You were corrupted and deceived by this mongrel…The Holy Commander has told me if I can bring you redemption you will be my reward." He touched her face and she had to swallow the bile that rose in her throat. "You needn't be afraid…I won't hurt you I want to undo the harm he has done." Lee looked at her feet hoping the man misread her actions. She did not dare let him see the look of disgust on her face. "You are modest in your dress and speech when he is not around…That shameful display in the hall…That was his evilness forcing you to be a harlot…not an elected One…I will break his hold over you and you will no longer be a defective one."
"Stop calling her that." Johnny had come up with this plan, of sorts. If he could make that man so angry and change the focus from Lee to him….and he was far enough from her…Roy could get to her and get her to safety… "Leave her alone you psycho."
"Easy there Junior," Roy said. He knew in his gut what Johnny was planning. He could hear the promise he had made days ago echoing in his head. He would honor that promise but at what price?
"You can do that for me?" Lee's voice was soft and shaky. Her eyes still down at her feet. "Please help me." She looked up briefly her eyes half closed. "You know my name…may I know yours?" Lee knew her uncle and Cisco would save her and the guys. And she had to stop Johnny from doing something so incredibly brave and stupid at the same time. She had no doubt he would sacrifice himself for her and Roy.
"I knew you would understand once you saw him for his true self . My name is George…and I will call you Elizabeth…that is a name more fitting than what they call you. Are ready for your first test?”
"Yes, George…" she looked at him and again felt the bile rising in her throat…"Whatever you wish."
"No don't touch her!" Johnny lounged at George as he reached out to take hold of the wheel chair. The man swung around with more quickness than Johnny expected and felt the man's forearm connect with his head. The room swung dizzily and he felt his knees buckling. As he hit the floor George kicked him in the stomach and ribs.
"See he would keep you his slave…not wanting you to be healed." George watched the two men but decided they were of no consequences at this point. "You interfere and she may pay the consequences, do you understand
"Yeah we understand." Roy spat out through clenched teeth. He saw the tears in Lee's eyes and nodded slightly.
"Now, you will start on the road to redemption on the path to the Holy Commander." He stopped and listened to the noise from outside the room.
"The wind in the trees is picking up…I think that's the big tree outside the window banging on the building," Lee said as the banging got louder. "Jeff always used to laugh at me when I got scared of taps in the night."
Then barely visible by a huge potted plant over to the left of the double doors Jeff saw the splash of color. It was the shawl he had just given Lee. Putting his finger to his lips he moved to the plant. He could hear voices but couldn't make out the words until he heard Johnny yell "don't touch her". He backed away to where Cisco was waiting.
"They are in there…Not sure exactly what is happening but it isn't good. Let's go down to the reception hall and get this building cleared out."
They could hear the music and laughing as they neared the reception room. Going in they looked around for Sam or Jacob. Jeff saw Jo talking to Mary Kate and quickly went over to them.
"Did you see Roy? I was beginning to worry it's taken him so long to come back. He went to help Johnny get Lee into the rover and …Something is wrong, isn't it?"
Cisco had moved on to talk with Sam and Jacob. He explained what little they knew. "Is there another way out? Besides the front doors."
"Of course, the fire laws…There is an emergency exit that goes out to the back of the building. He went up to the dandy the music stopped. "Please listen everyone…There is an emergency and we must leave the building as quick and quietly as we can. Do not go near the front windows…There is no danger to us but to our friends…There are people outside who will help you…"
Jeff and Cisco and Sam went back to the front of the building leaving Jacob and the men they had outside to handle the evacuation. Once they reached the doorway slipped over to the small window near the closed door. Taking his gun butt he began hitting the window. Cisco smiled and Sam looked puzzled. Jeff tapped (DOT DASH DASH) (DOT) (DOT DOT DASH DOT)
He came back to the other two. "She heard me… All we can do now is wait …Soon as we get the chance we move fast"
Johnny was sitting up and watching waiting and silently praying. Roy was poised to move fast knowing Lee was going to fail the test and George would not react well.
"You have been deceived and corrupted by the evilness of the uncleansed mongrel. He stole your strength and purity to build his own powers of corruption. In the name of the great and Holy Commander I say to you rebuke evil and walk with me as we follow the Holy Commander's path. He is the only the One who can give you your rightful place." The look on the man's face gave no doubt to the depth of his insanity. "Stand up and walk to me." He took several steps farther back from Lee's chair. "Rise up and rebuke the evilness or I will destroy him before you. If you pass this test we will become his masters and he will forever do our biding…"
"No…she can't," Johnny pleaded. "Don't…"
"Shut up Mongrel…or I will show you a sample of the discipline those who are not worthy receive…"
"I can do this…" Lee said with a determination that chilled Johnny's soul. "I will walk for you…" She looked at Johnny praying he understood she was talking to him not George. "For my love." She added very softly. Locking her brakes and moving the foot rest she looked at George and nodded. "I will stand and walk to you…" She said it loud hoping Jeff and Cisco could hear her. Pushing herself up to standing she closed her eyes and fought to keep her balance as she stood. George watched her…
"Do it…now or I'll punish them." George screamed at her. "Walk or watch them die." Lee took a small step and tensed her body praying that her knee didn't buckle until she was closer…the more time she could buy for the others. Johnny held his breath as she took a second and third step. Johnny could see and hear her laughing as she had taken 10 steps as one of her Christmas gifts to him. Remembering how proud she had been…
Screaming in rage and pain George pushed her away. Roy and Jeff both moved as fast as they could to get to her as she hit the floor…The back of her head hitting with a resounding thud.
George spun around the gun aimed at Johnny. "You ruined everything!" The gun fired as Cisco tackled him. George looked at the tall man standing over him and began sobbing like a child. Sam had followed them into the room and was handcuffing the sobbing man as Cisco went over to Johnny.
"Mijo---Chet Kelly might be right…You be a disaster magnet." He looked at the bloody graze on Johnny's forehead. "Lay still," He ordered as Johnny was trying to get up.
"Probably a concussion but nothing broken that I can feel…" The paramedics had come in but Johnny waved them over to Lee. Soon as they came over Roy went back to Johnny.
"Thanks P..al.. ly" He said as he gave up fighting the pain and let the blackness overtake him. He knew that Lee was gonna be ok and was in good hands.
"Stony, he could use some help…He took a couple of good kicks in the stomach and ribs and there is a graze from a bullet…" Roy told his friend from 36.
"Roy, Jo is waiting out in my car…one of my guys is with her…" Jeff said as he came over to where they were working on Johnny. Roy nodded and left.
Jo was watching as people came and went and the ambulances came . Just as she decided she couldn't wait any longer she saw Roy walking down the sidewalk. She was quickly out of the car and in his arms.
Holding her tightly he kissed her, letting her cry. "It’s ok, it’s over…Do you want to go to Rampart with me or on home?" He asked when she was finally calmed down. She realized she had been so relieved to see Roy she hadn't asked about the others.
"If you're going to Rampart so am I. " She smiled knowing that was what he expected to hear. "How bad?"
"I'd guess he has sore ribs…She has a concussion…possibly a hairline fracture…He made her try to walk…then when she attacked him pushed her and she fell backwards."
"Lee attacked that mad man?" Shaking her head in disbelief. "What in the world was she thinking?"
"He tried to kiss her and she had reached the breaking point. …Johnny had already been hurt and that guy, George, kept calling him mongrel and evil."
The ambulance attendants brought out the two stretchers and a policeman Roy didn't know was walking with George. The handcuffed man was no longer sobbing but mumbling to himself. The policeman and George got into the second ambulance.
Once they got to Rampart Roy decided he needed to call Cap and let him know what had happen. .
"Cap its Roy." He heard the sharp intake of breath.
"How bad? What happened?" Cap sat up knowing Emily was already awake. "Do I need to get down there?"
"No, they both will be fine. Johnny's got a badly bruised rib and a slight concussion from a bullet grazing him. Lee has a hairline skull fracture but Joe Early said it's nothing serious. She is gonna be pretty sore from falling." Soon as morning tones go off I'm gonna see if Charlie will work for me."
"You do that and if he can't call in a replacement for you…I don't want to see you there working. You call in for John?"
"Yeah…I didn't think you wanted to find out about it hearing the morning news."
"You let that ever happen you'll have latrine duty for a month."
Johnny woke up to the sound of breakfast carts in the hallway. At first he couldn't remember why he was back in Rampart. "LEE!" He called out as he remembered. The pain as he tried to sit up also reminded him of the kicks George had given him
"Relax and breath slow…Lee is fine…she is down the hall and was still asleep 5 minutes ago." Roy came out of the small bathroom. "You have an assortment of bruises and a very slight concussion."
"Thanks." Roy had handed him a cup of ice water. "Doc said she has a hairline fracture but nothing serious and her backside has a pretty bad bruise… And no I didn't see it. "The look on his face when he told him about the bruise was priceless. "They'll bring you tray in few minutes and after you eat and after Doc has seen her you can see her."
"Didn't we have to work today?" He was trying to find a comfortable way to lay. The lights were too bright and he hurt when he breather and he wanted to see Lee now.
"Yeah but Cap didn't think a paramedic who had 2 hours of sleep after being kidnapped was a good idea. He said he'd try to stop by today to check on you. Jeff and Cisco will be in to see you. Jeff spent the night in Lee's room."
"You're sure she's gonna be ok?" Johnny could still see her falling in his head. It was like a slow motion sequence in a movie. "She was just talking the other day about wanting to break her record of 10 steps for our anniversary dance."
"Yeah she was telling Jo it’s getting harder to do the therapy since she doesn't see much improvement."
"They think she is past the point of improvement…it’s just maintaining what she has now…We really don't talk about it much anymore…that and having a baby just makes her too sad."
They brought his tray in and he looked at the soggy looking bacon and scrambled eggs and pushed it away.
"Junior they aren't gonna let you up until they see you eat and keep something down."
"Man just looking at that is turning my stomach…I'd never keep it down."
"Then how about this mijo?" Cisco said grinning as he came into the room. "Ma figured you'd be hungry."
He sat the picnic basket he had on the tray table. "It’s coffee cake and homemade jam and a bowl of cream of rice." He took two thermos bottles from the basket. One was the hot cereal the other warmed half and half. "There's juice and brown sugar and cinnamon too…Think you can handle that." He looked at Roy. "Here's coffee and cake for you too. Ma figured you'd be here."
"Tell her thanks." Roy said grinning as Cisco handed him a package and a thermos.
"Tell her yourself…She's down in Lee's room and is coming here next." He pulled another thermos out of the basket. "She and Kel have already made plans for your release tomorrow."
Johnny nodded as he had a mouth full of cake. He didn't mind being told he was staying here since he intended to spend most of the day in Lee's room.
Nurse Kramer came in and gave the two men a dirty look. "Visiting hours aren’t until 10." She moved over to take Johnny's vitals. "Food is not to be brought into the rooms without permission."
"Doc said my mom could send in whatever she liked for my mijo there and I'm here on official police business." The look he gave her silenced her. "Now I remember you and I also know that you have a pretty good idea who I am…so let’s play nice. Johnny, Lee and the family here for them are in no mood for your crap…" Johnny and Roy smiled as they knew he was being polite as he ran his hand through his shaggy salt and pepper hair.
"There a problem Cisco?" Kel and Dixie were standing in the doorway. "John, Lee is awake and asking for you." Knowing from the look what Johnny was about to say.
"Nah Doc, There isn't no problem…me and the nurse are just setting some ground rules. Seems she didn't like me bringing in some breakfast for John there and we shouldn't be in here…And she told the nurse at the desk not to hurry if the call light came on in here since it was just that paramedic again."
"Is that true nurse? Did you say that?"
"Yes but he had called twice in less than a half hour."
"Johnny was throwing up and I needed to change his bed and gown…and he needed pain meds."
"Nurse we'll talk in my office …Dix call the nursing supervisor to set up a meeting." Kramer left and Kel did a quick vitals check. The nurse left.
"You seem to be doing ok now."
"He woke up from a nightmare and I think it was from the pain of moving so quick and twisting." Roy said as Johnny listened meekly.
"Ok…You eat and keep it down then you can go see Lee. For an hour then back to bed for awhile. She is awake and was in moderate pain from the cracked tail bone."
"Cracked tail bone? I didn't know anything about that…" Johnny sat up and pushed the tray away. Dixie quietly and gently put a hand on his shoulder and he laid back.
'When we were getting her settled in bed the nurse noticed some pretty bad bruises and I had them do an X ray. How did she fall backwards like that?"
"George South pushed her after she raked her finger nails down his face.
I keep telling you all she is a hell cat." Cisco said with a smile and a wink at Dixie. "Ole George he made the mistake of trying to kiss her after calling Johnny a mongrel…Somehow that just didn't set well with her."
"She knew she couldn't walk to him…but I think she planned on falling into him so me and Roy could get away."
"Johnny she is going to need someone with her 24/7 for awhile. Someone besides you because I don't want you lifting her for at least 2 weeks…And before you start protesting…Just think what if you go to lift her and those ribs and bruised stomach muscles react badly. You could drop her or injure yourself worse."
"I understand Doc. We can hire someone."
"You and ma work that out…She gets even more protective of that girl when she is hurt or sick…"
"Like you don't?" Johnny said laughing. "Did I tell you thanks for everything? Both of you?"
"Yeah you did…In between arguing because I wouldn't let you up to sit beside her." Roy said as Cisco laughed.
An hour later they were all in Lee's room. She was awake and fussing to go see Johnny when they went in. Jeff, Roy, Cisco and Maria went out to give them a few minutes privacy.
"This is a switch me in the hospital bed and you in the wheelchair. Are you sure you're ok to be up?"
"Yeah the best thing for me was to see you…"He had a tight grip on her hand. The words he was saying sounded trite to him but he couldn't find worlds to tell her what he was feeling.
"I know." She squeezed his hand. They stayed like that for several minutes before Jeff stuck his head in the door.
"You ready to talk to us?" They came in and got settled.
"Yeah…Hey, Pally, I could use some help."
Jeff and Cisco smiled as Roy helped Johnny stand up then sit next to Lee on the bed. Both seemed to relax. Maria sat next the bed. Cisco was up pacing.
"Ok here is what we have found out about your friend George."
"He isn't any friend of mine," Johnny said with a humpf. Lee leaned over so her head was resting against his shoulder, his arm moved so it was around her as he drew her closer.
"George South, 30 years old, a repairman for a local appliance store. And totally lost in a fantasy world, His mother and younger brother disappeared when George was 20. The younger brother had some type of mental retardation…The father, George South, sr. an old fashion hellfire and brimstone preacher. Anyone who didn't agree with him totally was damned to spend eternity burning. He started his own church after offending all the established churches in the area. He preached a wild mixture of old time religion, Hitler's bigotry and communism plus his own ego…He was the Holy Commander the One true all powerful being…to lead the Elected Ones, the true followers of the true path away from the uncleansed who mixed the races and tolerated those who were not of the Elected . Any woman who did not meet his standards was a harlot. Any woman who bore a handicapped child was defective as the child and was not fit to be a mother or a wife. Any physical problem was a sign of corruption. The house that Sam and Thanh just bought belonged to George's maternal grandfather and when he died George and his family moved in there. The upper room was George and his brother's. After the brother and mother disappeared the elder South made it into his headquarters and financed his mission with a first and second mortgage which of course he never paid. The old man became a drunk and an addict before dying in a charity ward of a …ah ..auhm…" Looking at his mother and turning slightly pink around the ears…"Dying of a social disease." The son had the ideas of his father beaten into him and when his dad died he lost what little touch with reality he had…He has been responsible for the fires in the store front churches and the flea bag hotels…When he saw a Jewish man and a Vietnamese woman moving into his house he decided it had to be destroyed. Then he saw you two there and he went off on the deep end over you, Lee. We found a picture of his mother in the room he had been hiding in since he lost the house. You fix your hair up on your head in a knot a lot, right?"
"Yes especially when we go out…Like the night we went out with Sam and Thanh." Lee answered, "Johnny likes it that way."
"And in the wedding picture he tore down from Johnny's locker….You look a lot like his mother. The old man accused her of taking a lover since no son of his would ever be born defective. The beatings increased and there is some speculation the old man killed her and the child. We are still going through the boxes and boxes of stuff we found."
Johnny was holding Lee as tight as he could given how sore his ribs and stomach was. Her face was buried in his shoulder as she sobbed.
"I love you so you do what they tell you so you can come back." Lee said as the tears kept coming. Even as Maria was moving her and comforting her Lee's gaze never left the retreating group of men.
They got Johnny settled in bed and Roy pushed the call button. It wasn't Kramer who answered. "Johnny could use a pain pill." Roy told the young nurse. She checked the chart and left saying she would return soon.
"Ya know except for him hurting Lee, I can almost feel sorry for that poor guy." Johnny's memories of his mother's family and their treatment of him giving him some understanding to what George had lived through with his father.
"Yeah. But you took that pain and hate and used it as an example of how you wouldn't live your life." Roy reminded him. "I'll be back later…call if you need anything." He gave his friend a pat on the shoulder.
"We'll be around here most of the day and when I leave someone else will be here." Jeff said.
"Dad is coming later and mom'll be here until they force her to leave." Cisco said with a grin.
Johnny nodded his throat closed by the emotions running thru him. They all were making sure he knew he wasn't alone and never would be again.
The pain meds kicked in quickly and he was soon asleep.
Two days later Lee were home after being told it was strict bed rest for a week and Johnny was not to lift or help transfer her so they had hired a nurse friend of Dixie's to come help at night while Maria stayed with them during the day.
Jeff stayed a few more days then went back to the East Coast. Kathy and Jo and Em kept Lee company over the next two weeks.
Once he was given the ok to help her transfer but still no lifting they stopped having the night nurse. Roy and the others came to visit and Johnny even went over to Roy's to help with a project leaving Jo and Em to stay and play yahtzee and canasta with Lee and Maria.
A shift had to work on Valentine's Day but along with flowers and candy Jo and Lee had been promised a wonderful dinner to celebrate on their next day off. Lee was still only working part time as her tailbone and bruises were a little slower to heal. So she was looking forward to a night out.
As she was getting ready she thought about all that had happened in the last year and smiled at the surprise she had planned for Johnny in 2 weeks. Since the last of January she had been working on this surprise.
Johnny helped her into the car and as they started out very casually said, "There has been a slight change in plans…We're going to stop at Roy's before we go out"
"Good, it's been awhile since I saw the kids." As they drove up the street Lee thought she saw Chet's van and Cap's truck parked a little down from Roy' house but decided she was wrong since there was plenty of room up by his house.
They pulled into the driveway and Lee frowned. Something had changed. Then she shrugged it off just not used to seeing Roy's car in the drive. Usually if he was home his car was in the garage. Just as they pulled up the garage door opened and Roy waved as he went to pull the car into the garage. Johnny got out and took the wheelchair around to her. Roy came over and helped and they both were grinning like the canary that ate the cat.
It wasn't until she was in the chair and they began wheeling her that she realized what was different. There was a new section of side walk that went around to the side of the house. Thinking that was nice now she wouldn't have to go up the front steps to get to the deck and that would make it a little easier when they came to visit.
"SURPRISE!" The A shift of station 51 and wives yelled as she looked at the newly constructed ramp. Johnny bent down and whispered in her ear. "Gotya."
"Lee, we got to thinking it was about time we did some remodeling around here. All the guys helped, even Junior. We just wanted to remind you that you are an important part of our family." Roy said as he handed her a pair of scissors. "So if you would please cut the ribbon."
"Thank you." Her hand was trembling so Johnny ended up helping her hand over hand. Jo smiled thinking that was perfect for them. With flair Johnny pushed her up the ramp and into the house. Another surprise was several familiar faces from O' Sheas
"The guys all chipped in we are having a catered dinner…Clean up included…" Jo said as they moved into the front room/dining area. "And no we never mind rearranging the furniture…" The dining table was set up as a buffet and tables were grouped in the living room.
"Before we eat I want to say that we are glad and thankful that you and John are doing well and are a part of our lives…" Hank said.
"I thank God every day for you all and that we are a family…And there isn't any words to say how much I love you all." Johnny just nodded as he stood behind her.
The meal was wonderful and afterwards they played trivia. The women won as usual.
At roll call assignments were given out and the crew told about the meeting.
"What kind of meeting and why here?" Chet asked.
"Pal you know as much as I do. I want you all on your best behavior, is that understood?"
"Aw Cap the phantom knows when to stay home."
"Now get busy and get this place cleaned up."
At 11:45 the doorbell rang and when Cap opened it he was surprised to find Sean and Mic O' Shea with platters of sandwiches and salads and cupcakes.
"Heard there was a meeting here today and we had some hungry firemen to take care of." Mick said laughing at the expression on the faces of 51's crew. They heard car door slamming and were stunned to see not only Chief Houser but Chief Sorenson coming in with Kelly Brackett and Dixie McCall.. Hank went quickly to greet them.
"Hank, thank you for hosting this meeting…" Chief Houser said with a grin. He looked around and saw Johnny and Roy. "Gentlemen good to see you are here on time and not off on a call. I believe a year ago today you were late coming to the advisory board meeting."
"A year ago today… you had to go to a meeting you didn't want to go to but did because Kel and Dixie asked you to be on a committee. " Lee said as she wheeled herself over to a very stunned John Gage. "And for that there are no words to say how grateful I am to them for asking and you for accepting. Happy Anniversary my love."
"Gentlemen I was reminded last August I was invited to a wedding not because I was a LA county fire chief but because I was a friend of this rather remarkable young lady. Today I am here as a friend to a remarkable young couple."
"Thank you…now everyone get a plate and enjoy…I know Kel and Dixie are on a tight schedule." Lee said looking at the shocked face of her husband. "This was planned a long time before Valentine's Day."
"Doc, Dix…thanks for coming." Johnny said when he found his voice.
"Wouldn't miss this for the world, tiger."
"Yeah you two keep life interesting …" Kel said.
"Well, I did promise Chet that I would try never to be boring…"
"Man are you ever gonna let me live that down?" He looked up from the sandwich he was making.
"Probably not…that wouldn't be any fun," Lee said laughing at the look on his face.
"That’s my girl, not only beautiful and smart but a great sense of humor." Johnny said the famous Gage smile bigger than ever.
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The Characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Limited. No copyright infringement is intended or monetary gain made. I merely like to toy with them and return them to their proper owner in good working order.
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