Right Place, Wrong Time

by Maudlin Mush

Disclaimer: The characters of Emergency do not belong to me. Sometimes life happens and you aren't in control. As always I'll help 'em up, dust them off, give 'em a smooch and send them back when I'm done.

Chapter 1

"Hey Marco, how was your time off?" Roy Desoto greeted his fellow fireman. The man looked well-rested.

"Great, Roy," he answered. "Tio Raphael and I fished off Baja. We caught some bonita and tuna. Talk about a feast! We smoked a lot of it and I brought some for lunch." Desoto had to grin. Smoked tuna salad was one of those Marco specialties that was fantastic.

"Even Cap will be happy with that!" he agreed enthusiastically.

"Say, I saw Johnny's Rover in the lot..." Marco indicated with his head.

"Yep! After pulling so many latrine assignments he's decided to get in early," Roy explained. "That means good 'ol Chet is getting more time scrubbing toilets." Marco chuckled as he buttoned up his shirt. They heard the slap of shoes on concrete as the so named fireman ran into the locker area.

"Say, Chet, you're almost on time!" Roy commented nearly sincerely. He and Marco closed their lockers and walked out into the apparatus bay. Growling, Kelly immediately began changing out for shift. By the time he made it to roll call he knew he'd drawn the smelly end of the stick.

"Hello, Mr. Kelly," Stanley raised his eyebrow at the tardy man. "I don't have to tell you what your duty is..."

"Yeah, Cap," he mumbled. "Latrine." Somehow Gage and Lopez kept a straight face. It was DeSoto and Stoker that had to quell their chuckles.

"Now for the serious stuff," the captain regained their collective attention. "Seems that the 36s was broken into two nights ago. Two men were found breaking into the squad's medicine box."

"That was Brice and Bellingham's shift," Johnny started.

"Yes, John, it was," Cap continued. "The paramedics confronted them as the engine was out and they were attacked. Bellingham's ribs were cracked when one of the thieves decided to hit him with a tire iron. Brice pulled him away and managed to convince the thieves to take the drugs and leave. Probably saved his partner's life." The station crew shifted uncomfortably thinking about their own partners being hurt and how stressful it must have been.

"So the County has sent down this order: if we find ourselves in the same situation, even if we out-man the thieves, we are to stay back and allow them to take whatever they want," Hank said. "The County feels it's more important to have live, safe and healthy firemen than fill the hospital with injured ones."

"We can't do anything?" Chet asked, unhappy at the thought they'd allow the creeps to walk all over them.

"Well, we can turn on the lights and make a lot of noise," Stanley said as he checked the memo. "Also, they suggested opening the roll door so they can leave more easily."

"This is crazy," Roy said. "There's only four or five doses of morphine in the kit."

"And about the same number of doses of diazepam," Gage added. "Seems crazy to risk so much to get so little."

"According to McConnike's office there's a shortage of this stuff on the streets," Cap explained. "Some of the junkies are getting so desperate they're even stealing stuff from hospitals. Rampart's been hit twice already."

"Dixie never mentioned it," DeSota said.

"I think they hit the main pharmacy late at night, when only the ER satellite pharmacy was opened," Cap explained.

"I was reading in the paper there's been an upswing in the number of pharmacy break-ins and armed robberies," the quiet Mike offered.

"So, if anything happens we are to stand down and not interfere," Hank said in summation. "I'm going to count on you to follow this directive." He received a round of grumbled agreement then sent them on to their duties.

Within the hour the station was toned out. "Station 51, MVA north 405 freeway, enter northbound on La Tiera. Time out, 8:50," the dispatcher relayed.

"Station 51, KMG 365," Hank responded as he tore off the dispatch sheets. Soon the squad was leading the way, lights flashing and horns blaring. When they neared South Broadway Roy glanced at his partner. Gage stiffened as they crossed through the intersection.

"Hey, Junior, we're safe," he said as calmly as possible.

"Yeah, this time," Johnny responded. He still had the memory of his pally being shoved over the seat into his lap by an unobservant driver. It had taken Roy over two months to heal and get through rehab. With a sigh the younger paramedic allowed himself to pat his partner on the shoulder reassuring them both.

Soon they made it to the freeway and rode the shoulder down to the crash site. Smoke was pouring out from the crushed hood of a four door sedan, the small VW bug in front was pinned against the center divider. Behind, a panel truck had spewed it's cargo of wooden pallets across the roadway.

"Kelly, Lopez, inch and a half now!" Hank directed. "Get the battery cables popped!" Leaving them he nodded towards Stoker who was already getting his water supply ready. Then he hustled over to the patrolmen on duty.

"What do we have?" he called out.

"Glad you're here, I'm Martinez," he held out his right hand and shook the captain's hand. "Everyone's out of the truck and Plymouth. The driver of the VW is pinned and unconscious. Looks like the passenger's dead."

"Roy, John!" Hank called as he turned. "Trapped driver and passenger in the VW. I'll check on the rest." He saw Gage wave in understanding.

Unfortunately the young male passenger was dead and the paramedics quickly tarped him. They turned their attention to the trapped driver. Quickly it was determined the jaws would be needed and the younger man jogged over to collect the equipment. He enlisted the help of two of the officers and returned with the backboard as well.

Everyone felt much safer once the Plymouth's engine was doused with enough water to cool it and keep the gasoline from igniting. As the paramedics work feverishly to extract their victim, Cal-Trans arrived to start picking up the pallets and to sand down the oil. Tow trucks were jockeying into position to pull the truck out of the way.

Carefully the driver was pulled onto the backboard and slid out. He was set down next to the squad. Vitals were quickly assessed while Roy established contact with Rampart.

"Rampart, this is squad 51," he began.

"51, this is Rampart," Morton immediately picked up the call.

"We have a male, approximately 25 years old. He was in a MVA," the senior paramedic warmed to his task relaying broken bones, rigid abdomen, lump and bleeding on the forehead and vitals. It didn't look good.

Morton listened with concern. He ordered IV, wide open, and the mast pants to be put on to hopefully slow the internal bleeding. The patient needed to be brought in immediately; the medi-flight helicopter was dispatched.

By some miracle the young man was still alive when he arrived at Rampart. Morton was waiting on the heli-pad and rode down in the elevator already assessing.

"We're going to have to get him into surgery stat," he determined grimly. "Too much trauma to his abdomen. I'm sure there's some serious bleeding going on in there." Agreeing, Roy helped the doctor bring him to the surgical floor and into an open operating theater.

Johnny backed the squad into a slip near the ER door. He wondered how the patient was doing. He hadn't looked good when Roy flew off with him. He plucked his small spiral notepad from his pocket and noted down what they'd need to replenish the drug box. Then he picked up the HT and climbed out of the squad. He quickly locked the compartment doors and slipped the key into his pocket.

Better safe than sorry!

The first thing he noted was the hallways were empty for ER. There were only two people sitting in the waiting area. *Guess even ER has a slow day now and then,* he thought. Turning the corner he saw Dixie and Dr. Bracket at the nurses' station with a man he didn't recognize behind the counter with them.

"Hey Dix, Doc," he began. Then froze as a gun made its presence known. "Guess I need to wait my turn." The nurse and doctor said nothing but the bearded man raised angry eyes at him.

"Ok, fireman, don't interfere!" he growled low in his throat.

"No problem, man," he said calmly. "What 'cha need, maybe I can help ya." He frantically tried to think of a way to get the two hospital people out of the line of fire.

"Maybe you can seeing the doctor and nurse are so reluctant," he replied.

"Be glad to," Johnny gave a lop-sided smile. "I'm coming back, but the doc and Dix need to get out of the way."

"Do like the fireman says," the junkie said. Gage could see the gun shaking. He did not like this! Carefully he pulled first Dixie, then Brackett back out of the way. Then he came slowly around the counter. He'd had to pull pretty hard to move Brackett.

"I need all the morphine they got," he pushed his sweaty hair off his forehead. Johnny could tell the man was desperate for a fix.

"OK, give me a minute," he started pulling open the cupboard and rooting through the boxes. Soon he had half a dozen vials of the requested drug and a box of syringes.

"Man, you look like you need a shot now!" Gage commented. "Want me to load a needle for you? It'd take the edge off." Dixie had left, hopefully to call security and the police. Given Brackett's stance, looking like an angry pit bull, he needed to defuse the situation and get the doc out of danger.

The junkie was really beginning to shake and stared at the paramedic for a long moment.

"Yeah, that'd be good," he licked his lips in anticipation.

"How much you want?" Gage asked as he opened a syringe and popped the seal on a morphine bottle.

"Give me 10cc's," he said. His eyes intently followed every movement the paramedic made, anticipating the relief he'd soon have. Johnny expertly filled the syringe and then flicked the side to dislodge any air bubbles. Although he looked fully involved in his preparations, his mind was racing ahead with possibilities. He might have a chance to subdue the guy if things went the way he wanted.

"Ok, roll up your sleeve," he said. The junkie, without thinking, set the gun on the counter and reached for his sleeve. Immediately, Gage dropped the syringe and shoved the gun over the counter onto the hall floor by Brackett. Without pausing he grabbed the man by the arm and swung him around subduing him easily. He struggled, but given his condition he was too weak and unable to dislodge the paramedic who pinned him to the counter.

When the gun flew off the counter two policemen, guns drawn, came down the hallway followed by a hospital security officer. While his partner held his gun on the thief, his partner quickly rounded the counter hand cuffed him. The security officer snapped up the loose gun.

"We'll need to talk to you and the doctor," Stevens, according to his name tag, told Gage. "We'll get this guy settled and meet you in the doctor's lounge." Both Bracket and he agreed and stood watching as the officers took their prisoner down the hall to a more secure place.

"Damn it, Johnny," Kel immediately jumped in as soon as the scene was clear. "You could of been killed!"

"Your welcome," the paramedic grumped. He ran his hand through his hair attempting to calm his racing heart.

"I'm not kidding!" Brackett persisted. "You shouldn't have gotten involved! You should have just called the police!" Gage looked directly into his boss's eyes.

"No, I would never allow anything to happen to Dixie," he stated. "Call me a chauvinist, but I could not leave her there. Getting you out of the way was just an added benefit. I care for you, too." This completely disarmed the angry man, although he wasn't going to let it go.

"I can take care of myself," he retorted weakly.

"Ok, so next time, as long as you're all by your lonesome with a gun being pointed at ya, I'll let you handle the situation," Gage offered grudgingly.

"You'd better!" Bracket countered. They glared at one another for a long moment. Then both blinked.

"Coffee, I need coffee," Johnny mumbled. "Especially since we can't have Knob Creek."

"I'd prefer the Knob Creek," Kel rejoined, "but there's a fresh pot on in the lounge." Johnny slowly came out from behind the counter. He faced the doctor and waited.

Kel opened his arms and they hugged briefly.

"Let's get that coffee," Brackett whispered into Gage's ear. They separated and moved down the hall together.

After calming an emotional Dixie, the three sat down and sipped on several cups of coffee while waiting and then speaking with the police. Roy arrived half-way through the report and settled down to listen to the drama he'd missed. He was glad no one was hurt, and he understood why Johnny had gotten involved. But still he felt limp in relief that his hyperactive, impulsive, partner was ok.

Finally Stevens was done with them and left to collect his partner and prisoner. Johnny's head sunk into his hands. He didn't care about these three people seeing his exhaustion. Kel immediately slid closer and put a hand on his shoulder blades.

"Diazepam?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, call in Dr. Early," Johnny grumped. "He's real good at dispensing diazepam to me!" This caused Dixie and Kel to chuckle. Roy then joined in at the table and pulled a chair on the other side of his partner.

"You have a way of getting into pretty hairy situations, Junior," he commented. Gage lifted his head and nailed his partner with his eyes.

"You insinuating I get a haircut, pally?" he teased. This caused all four of them to chuckle.

"Naw, I'll leave that to Cap," DeSoto said as he joined Kel in patting his friend's back.

"I guess we should call in available," Gage decided. "We've been out a long time!"

"And you can stay out until we eat!" Dixie asserted. Now that she knew she was safe, that Kel and Johnny were safe, she was able to deal with the shock. She took the HT off the table and simply raised an eyebrow. Acquiescing, the two paramedics and one doctor followed the feisty nurse down the stairs to the cafeteria. They ate in companionable silence for the most part then bussed their table and went back to work.

"Squad 51 available," Roy clicked on the HT.

"Squad 51 available," dispatch parroted.

"You know," Roy said conversationally, "Cap is gonna blow a gasket over this." Johnny gave him a sideways glance.

"Well, giving me latrine would be ok seeing that Chet's already cleaned it," he remarked.

"What the heck were you thinking, Junior?" Roy asked sharply as he pulled onto the street.

"I was thinking that Dixie shouldn't be there," he replied just as sharp. "I told Doc I'd let him deal with the gun next time as long as Dixie wasn't involved."

"Yeah, well same here," Roy said. "If there's a gun it's my turn next time!" Johnny rolled his eyes.

"OK, Wyatt Earp, next time it's all yours," he grumbled. Yeesh! the testosterone was driving him nuts! And he knew he'd have the same conversation with Stanley. Plus, once Chet found out he'd be on the receiving end of the Phantom's teasing. Folding his arms he slunk down on the seat.