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Good grief. Note to self: check hard drive more often...

Title: The Standbys
Author: Yum@
Fandom: Emergency!
Pairing: non, gen, friendship fic
Rating: PG
Words: 4888 words, Complete, betaed by ldyanne
Summary: How do you help when you're forced to stay behind?
Spoilers: none.
Disclaimer: Emergency! is owned by Universal, MCA and its affiliates. This story is parody and for entertainment purposes only.

The first call came at 06:45 in the morning.

Hank watched the squad's blinking red lights twirl and spin, almost hypnotic against the bleak light of dawn, as it became smaller and smaller in the distance. He squared back his shoulders, tapped the button for the garage door without looking and hobbled back to bed. The rest of his men were fidgeting back to sleep, having been interrupted by the warbled tones before. Years had honed firemen to respond on an instinctual level that when it turns out not to be for them, it took minutes before everyone could nod right back to sleep because their bodies hummed with the need to battle elements bigger than they were.

The blankets were already cool by the time Hank slipped back into bed. When they finally warmed, a one alarm over at Culver drew everyone back up on their feet again and into their turnout gear. Two hours later, smelling like wet wood and burnt everything, Engine 51 trudged back into the station.

Squad 51 never returned. They were called in as soon as they radioed they were available.

"Squad 51. Difficulty breathing. 3100 Brick Lane. Cross street Hickory. Time out 8:33."

"Squad 51."

Kelly had turned up the intercom, loud enough that it drowned out the Today Show Stoker turned on. Jim Hartz was again complaining about gasoline prices to Walters, but Hank barely gave the screen a glance. He stared hard at the logbook, tried to remember what he was notating but then the intercom crackled to life once more.

"LA, Squad 51. Request an engine to respond to 3100 Brick Lane. Man trapped."

Hank frowned at Gage's terse call. He twisted around towards the white square speaker, the only contact they've had so far with two of their teammates. The intercom was a poor substitute for the two empty seats during breakfast and their regular conversations about the dry weather and fires they predict are coming.

"LA, Squad 51. I need an engine to respond to 3100 Brick Lane. Man trapped."

Gage repeated the request, his voice audibly higher now and there was a second when something hot flared inside Hank's chest as he wondered why the hell no one was responding to his men.

"Cap?" Lopez stood up from his chair, one hand already knuckling away his morning coffee and paper. Kelly and Stoker twisted around from the sink, waiting.

"Engine 9 responding to 3100 Brick Lane. ETA 3 minutes."

Without looking, Hank could feel everyone slumping. He sighed to himself and went back to his logbook. It made sense for Engine 9 to respond, he thought. They were obviously closer. Nevertheless, the logbook stopped being interesting—not that it ever was—and Hank joined the others listening to the intercom spit out the frenzied radio calls of someone else's run.

When there is no fire to rush off to, time slows to a crawl. Breakfast was uninterrupted and for once, Hank actually saw the Today Show ended in its over-cheery high note. The station's logbook was all filled out and reviewed. Twice. Hank heaved a sigh and checked the time again.

"Engine 39, Squad 51 in place of Squad 39. Unknown type rescue. San Rico Pass. Time out 9:44…"

It was Desoto who responded this time. Even on the intercom, he sounded hoarse. "Squad 51."

"Engine 39."

"Geez," Kelly muttered as he rinsed out the breakfast bowls and passed them to Stoker to dry. Kelly didn't seem to notice suds still covered his forearms as he listened to the dispatcher respond Ladder 7 as well to San Rico.

"Did they forget we were here, Cap?"

Hank shrugged because if he did say something, it would probably be inappropriate and sure as hell unbecoming of a captain.

"They were the closest to the scene," Lopez muttered, but his mustache curved downward when the dispatcher responded Engine 15, too. "Really close," Lopez grumbled and he flipped to the sports page with a jerk. The paper crinkled and almost tore.

"Anyone want to know how the Dodgers did?" Lopez offered as if in afterthought.

The collective response was less than enthusiastic.

"Engine 51. Rubbish fire. 4122 Richards Road. Time out 10:25."

"Squad 51. Heart attack victim. 155 Lincoln. Cross street Oregon. Time out 10:33."

"Engine 51, Truck 11 and Squad 45 in place of Squad 51. Structure fire. 9917 Pico. Cross street Wilson. Time out 11:07."

"Squad 51. Unknown rescue. Sea Glass Park. Time out 11:31."

By the time Hank and the others returned, the bowls Stoker left out had already dried on their own on the counter.

"Guess we just missed them," Hank said as he gestured towards the twin settings of mangled ham sandwiches and opened cartons of milk on the table. The paramedic logbook was opened and set between the two abandoned seats. Call sheets with scribbled addresses and brief synopses of the runs were sorted into little piles. Pens, a saltshaker, a wrench, whatever that was handy, pinned them down. Gage's careful print on one entry ended mid-word and a smudge as they must have been called out again.

Hank grimaced at the plates. It was clear which one was Gage's and which one was DeSoto's. Desoto always managed to finish at least half of his food efficiently, ready to bolt at the first tone. Gage never seemed to manage more than two bites before they got a run. It was just the way it is.

"What are they, Hansel and Gretel?" Kelly griped. He toed something on the floor. "There's a trail of crumbs going all the way out to the garage! Geez!"

The intercom grumbled in reply.

Gage came on, breathless and rapid as if he had been running. "LA, Squad 51. We need an air ambulance from our location to Rampart."

"10-4, 51. Air 17 responding. ETA 10 minutes."

Kelly kicked at one crumb before he pivoted around.

"Aw…I'll get a broom," Kelly muttered and he stomped out to the utility closet out in the garage.

Hank dropped down on a chair and tried to read about Stargell's homerun against Pittsburg in the sports pages. When that didn't work, Hank found himself staring at the intercom again as LA responded engines other than themselves to fires.

"Squad 51. Man trouble breathing. Van Gard Community Center…"

"LA, Squad 51. Multiple victims. Respond additional squad and two ambulances to…"

"Squad 51. Possible…

When the familiar rumbles of the squad rolled in finally, Lopez was already ladling the stew into four bowls but at Hank's short whistle, Lopez didn't blink. He just took out two more bowls.

Hank could hear Kelly outside, complaining that lunch was growing cold and that they took their time getting back. When all Gage would do was give Kelly a mumble, Hank frowned. He rested an arm on the back of his chair and twisted around to watch as Gage and DeSoto trudged in, unconsciously walking in step, heavy and a little crookedly.

"Morning or is it afternoon?" DeSoto groaned as he dropped into a chair. He reached up, tugged Gage by his watch, who was still standing behind a chair with a drowsy "Huh?" written all over his face. It looked like he was trying to figure out what the chair was for.

"Johnny." DeSoto half-yawned. "Sit."

Gage sat.

"Busy?" Hank commented. DeSoto gave a funny laugh.

"You could say that, Cap." DeSoto rubbed the back of his neck and rolled his head around from left to right. "I think I forgot what the station looked like at one point." Without looking, he nudged Gage's chair with a foot. "I should check that bandage later."

"Bandage?" Hank's brow furrowed. "What bandage?"

Gage rested his forehead on the table and without looking up, tugged his collar back with a crooked finger to reveal a patch of gauze over the juncture between his neck and his left shoulder.

"Victim's kid," DeSoto explained wearily when Gage wouldn't. He crooked a smile when Marco set a steaming bowl in front of him. DeSoto took a deep, appreciative whiff of stew before he grabbed a hunk of bread from the basket Stoker set by Gage's ear and dipped it into the thick meal. "Johnny here got her off those rocks—"

"And then she bit me," Gage mumbled, his head still on the table. "She bit me like Dracula."

Hank grimaced.

"Did she suck out your appetite, too?" Kelly said, his mouth full, "'Cause lunch is right there, Gage."

"Why bother?" Hank couldn't decide if Gage's whine was funny or not.

"We're just going to get called out again," Gage grumbled but he lifted his head, rubbed a hand to the back of his head and blinked blearily at the spoon Stoker slipped into his right hand.

It felt good to see the table full around him. Hank counted five heads bent over the stew, safe and sound and that sat fine with him. Gage, for once, was quiet as he shoveled stew as fast as he could into his mouth, waving dismissively at Kelly when he joked Gage was wearing his lunch, not eating it. DeSoto roused enough to chide Gage to slow down and share a chuckle with Lopez about something Boot did. Hank smiled to himself and wiped his bowl clean with the bread.

It didn't last long.

Gage and DeSoto was less than a third done with their lunch when the tones blared again: three short tones that said only half the station was needed.

"We'll keep your food in the oven," Lopez called out after Gage and DeSoto. Gage caught the bread rolls Stoker tossed over to him. The younger paramedic offered a grin to everyone as he scrambled to the squad.

The run was far away, far enough Gage needed to squint at the large map for a second longer than usual before he skidded around to the front of the squad, his boots slipping on the floor a little as he leapt into the vehicle, a chunk of bread clamped firmly in his mouth, the other he tossed to DeSoto when the other slipped in behind the wheel.

Hank almost didn't want to give them the call slip but he did because this is what they do. He stayed, watching the squad squeal away until he couldn't even hear their sirens anymore because this is what he does.

"…another alarm to Rockchester Park…"

"Squad 51. Possible heart attack. 548 Monroe Street. Time out 13:18."

"Has LA County all gone nuts?" Kelly complained as he stood by the intercom, a fist on his hip. "Seems like there's a disaster everywhere else but near us!"

Stoker, who's been perched by the speaker as well, shook his head before he went over to the couch. Newspaper rustled loudly as he took an extra long time to fold them into a neat pile.

DeSoto was barely audible on the radio.

"LA, Squad 51. Transporting to Rampart. Out forty minutes."

"Squad 51."

Lopez had been wiping the kitchen counter when the next broadcast came. He grumbled something that didn't sound English and went to the oven. He pulled the oven door down and grabbed the tray inside.

"Marco, that's their lunch," Kelly pointed out even as Lopez scrapped the stuff in the trash. Hank made a face at the goopy plopping sound it made as Lopez emptied the bowls.

"Goes bad sitting in the oven too long," Lopez muttered as he soaked the bowls in a sink full of suds.

Stoker levered off the couch and pulled the leftovers out of the fridge. The engineer wordlessly handed the entire pot over to Lopez. Hank said nothing as the pot was transferred to the stove. It was good stew. Be a shame if those two missed it, Hank mused.

Kelly watched as the pot began to bubble. He scratched a corner of his mustache.

"I think we still got some bread left, too," he mumbled and stuck his head in the fridge.

Hank merely shared a smirk with Stoker while Kelly grabbed a baking sheet to pile a layer of bread on to toast.

"LA, Squad 51. Transporting victim…"

"Squad 51."

Hank shook his head. It grated to sit here listening to his men on the radio and someone else responding. It left an oily feeling to his skin, like wearing something that didn't quite fit.

"LA, Squad 51! Suspected gas leak, Jeester and Graves! Man trapped. Request—"

The muffled boom that cut off DeSoto's terse voice made everyone shot up to their feet in the rec room. They gathered around the unassuming white speaker like it was a campfire. Hank folded his arms and leaned into the intercom.

"Engine 51. Come on. Say Engine 51," Kelly muttered as his body language imitated Hank’s, his eyes glued to grid.

Desoto came back on with a wheeze. Gage could be heard behind the static, coughing and calling Rampart. "LA, Squad 51. Respond a ladder and an ambulance to Jeester and Graves…"

Lopez sighed next to him. Stoker scuffed his heel on the floor. Kelly merely scowled.

"Unless you tell me you fitted a ladder on her, that's not for us," Hank opened up his hands and stuck them in his pockets. Hank headed for his office, twisted the knob for the volume of the speaker in his office a notch more and the dispatcher's calm voice filled his space. Hank sat heavily into his chair and thought it felt hard against his back. He leaned into it, hands clasped behind his head and stared hard at the intercom and waited to hear who would respond.

It wasn't even worth the effort to pretend to work.

"LA, Squad 51. Returning to base."

The mop slopped noisily on the painted concrete floor once more. Hank had escaped back into the kitchen when the office became too claustrophobic. He leaned out of his spot on the couch and studied Kelly dragging a wet mop across the floor, his face intent as if he was holding an inch-and-a-half.

Hank studied the duty roster he carried on a clipboard and crossed Kelly's name off of 'Garbage' and scribbled Gage's name next to it instead. He spied the dishes already done, the counter grease free and crossed out DeSoto's name off of 'Kitchen' and put Lopez's name in its place. His mouth crooked briefly to himself as the mop flopped with a squish outside, Kelly grunting as he moved soapy water around.

The paramedic log was still on the table. Stoker had paper clipped each mysterious pile and tucked them safely at the back of the log, replaced the leaking pen and placed a new legal pad by the log. Hank took a good whiff and his mouth watered. The kitchen smelled of tomato and beef and spices from the freshly reheated stew burbling and bubbling inside the oven. The bread sat in a basket with a towel over it on the table.

Hank smiled to himself, his head shaking even as he read the newspaper for the third time. It was hard to believe there was no fire to wrestle with but leave it to his men to find something to do anyway. From the constant radio calls echoing throughout the station, it sounded like hell burst to burn LA to the ground. Left with too much time on their hands, his men were even laying out the hoses to stretch outside, about eight hundred feet worth. Voluntarily. Hank was tempted to join them, at least to stop himself from setting up a base by the speaker.

When the familiar puttering rumbles of the squad finally came rolling in, a knot that was sitting on Hank's chest loosened. He took a deep breath and levered off the couch to greet his missing men.

Whatever he was going to say died in his mouth at the two figures shuffling out of the squad. Geez, he'd seen hoses with more life in them. Gage, his brow and his sleeves smudged with soot, dark bangs plastered over his forehead, mumbled a greeting at Lopez as he crossed the floor to the kitchen. DeSoto, a little dustier, just as alert, stomped along behind Gage. He, at least, waved in greeting. To a brick wall, that is.

"Cap," Gage yawned as he stumbled past. He tried to open his eyes as wide as he could, just in time as he nearly walked into the table. Only DeSoto's hand snagging his sleeve and tugging him to the left spared him the embarrassment.

Hank frowned mildly, glanced up and saw Stoker and Kelly do the same as they trailed in from behind. He scratched the back of his head.

"Hey, the stew's still good," Gage cheered after he stuck his head in the oven. "Thought for sure it would have been dry by now."

DeSoto grunted as he dropped into a chair and moved the logbook closer to him.

"Thought you boys were doing overtime at this rate," Hank chuckled as he went over to pour a cup of coffee and stopped Gage from colliding into DeSoto's chair with a subtle nudge towards the right direction.

"Fifteen runs and the shift's still not over for another hour," Gage mourned. He dropped into a chair and elbowed over DeSoto's bowl to his partner even as he grabbed a piece of bread. He brightened when he realized it was still warm, too.

DeSoto muttered something, ate a generous mouthful of stew then ducked his head as he scribbled into the book.

"Shoot," Gage mumbled, his mouth full. He tottered as he struggled to his feet. "Forgot the other call sheets in the—"

"Gage, stop leaving messes in the squad," Kelly griped as he slapped a loose pile of tear out sheets on the table. "You'll probably start a fire on the dashboard." He picked up one and squinted at it. Gage tried to grab it. He missed.

"You trying to be a doctor, Gage? Your handwriting is getting worse."

Gage rolled his eyes as he tore off a piece of bread to dip into the stew.

"Hard to write in a moving vehicle," Gage mumbled as he popped the bread in his mouth then leaned over to peer over his partner's shoulder. "No, no, that was after the bleeding ulcer, Roy."

"I thought the bleeding ulcer was after the broken leg?" DeSoto didn't look annoyed like most people would be at the interruption. He merely poked Gage to get back to his bowl, nodding when Gage shoved a chunk of bread into his other hand.

"No, the broken leg was before the drowning, remember? We had to go to Rampart with the broken leg so I could get stitches…" Gage trailed off when he realized he had the full attention of Station 51 around him now.

"Stitches?" Hank repeated archly.

DeSoto, his eyes still on the logbook, chewing on stew-soaked bread, absently picked up Gage's left arm by his watch and lifted Gage's arm high enough to reveal an inch long cut by the elbow.

Kelly gave a low whistle as he bent a little. He leaned in and peered at it. "Another Dracula?"

Gage squirmed. He yanked back his arm. "No," he grumbled. He shot DeSoto a glower but only got a shrug in return. "A lousy steep hill."

Hank furrowed his brow. "How steep? Were you okayed to return to duty?"

"Told you," DeSoto muttered just as Gage opened his mouth, undoubtedly to defend his reason for coming back to base.

Gage scoffed, shrugged and made a "so-so" gesture with his right hand. All it got him were four firemen glaring at him, arms folded across their chests. Gage huffed.

"Roy, you got a big mouth," Gage grumbled.

DeSoto blinked, gave him a sideways look while he pointed to himself then gave a perplexed one to Hank before he shook his head and went back to filling out the logbook.

"It's fine," Gage said. He waved off Lopez and Stoker when they came closer for a better look. "I only cut myself trying to catch Roy before he fell off the cliff," he added with a slow and deliberate drawl.

DeSoto's head shot up and he glared at his partner. Gage snickered, attention successfully diverted and was suddenly fascinated with his stew.

"A cliff?" Hank was beginning to feel like a parrot.

The older paramedic smiled or tried, but it wavered at Hank's pursed mouth.

"Johnny had seven stitches," DeSoto offered.

Gage choked. He wiped his mouth hastily with a napkin. "Roy nearly got trapped in a burning car," he announced.

Logbook forgotten, DeSoto dropped his pen. "Johnny did get trapped in a burning building."

"That wasn't my fault! Stupid retaining wall didn't retain! You know, I don't think that thing was up to code!"

Hank held up a hand. His head was starting to pound. The more he heard about their shift, the more he prayed it would be over soon. "Which rescue was this?"

"Broken leg," DeSoto replied.

"Skull fracture," Gage said at the same time.

The two did a double take and looked at each other.

"What? Wasn't the skull fracture from Freemont? The MVA?"

"I thought the broken leg was on—"

"Wait, no, I think the cliff was when we—"

"Shoot, maybe it was the sprained knee where that car exploded…" Slips of paper spread out across the table as Gage rifled through them. "No, maybe it was when the rope snapped at…"

Hank sighed. "Never mind. Eat your stew."

His order—at least he thought it should have counted as an order—fell on deaf ears as the pair went over a dizzying list of close calls and rescues that left Hank tempted to take an axe to the radio’s speaker.

The great big fireman in the sky must have finally taken pity on his shift. The dispatcher remained quiet for 51 and for once, Hank didn't mind the way the air seemed to have stood still or that Kelly was mopping the floor again for the third time. He counted heads as he walked across to his office, came up with five again and felt pretty damn good. He found himself smiling as he thumbed through the interdepartmental memos.

Minutes later, the door to the dorms next to him squeaked then stuttered to a squawk.

"Aw geez, will you look—Hey, Cap?"

Hank lifted his eyes from his paperwork. Kelly looked like he wasn't sure if he wanted to frown or laugh. He leaned into his office, only his torso visible.

"Uh, Cap?" Kelly gestured with a thumb over his shoulder. "I think you might want to get in here."

A brow rose but Hank levered out of his chair, tucked his hands in his pockets and strolled towards Kelly and his pointing finger.

Two steps into the locker room, Hank stopped in his tracks. And sighed.

"Oh for Pete's…" Hank scowled at the two legs sticking out of Gage's locker, ankles crossed and propped up on the bench. Stoker was standing by the open locker, his arms folded in front of him, peering inside the closet every so often.

"I think Gage was polishing his boots when he…" Kelly cocked his head and imitated a snore.

Hank cradled his head with a hand. "Have you checked to be sure? It sounded like they had a full shift."

"Respiration's good," Stoker reported. He took another peek into the locker. All that was visible was just Gage's trousers and socked feet. "He's definitely in the land of Nod, Cap."

A part of him told him it wasn't funny and he stared hard at Kelly until that snicker he could hear coming was gulped back.

"Someone get Roy?" Hank waved towards Gage—at least he was pretty sure it was Gage—with a wide sweep of his right arm.

"Uh…Cap?" Kelly pointed behind him.

Hank checked over his shoulder and groaned. He had walked right in and never checked around him.

Leaning against one wall inside the locker, boots planted on the floor, sat DeSoto. Also asleep. Lopez stood next to him, a sentry with a smirk, his back propped up by the adjacent locker. The fireman shrugged and thumbed towards DeSoto to his right, then Gage to his left.

Hank slapped a hand over his face. Oh, brother.

"Another forty minutes until the shift ends." Kelly scratched his mustache with a finger. "At this rate…"

Hank sighed. "I know." He studied the pair and threw up his hands. "Just leave them alone for now." He stared pointedly at Kelly. The fireman pointed at himself and held up both hands.

"I wasn't going to do a thing, Cap. Honest."

Hank crossed his arms in front of him, waiting until Kelly deflated and gave up Gage's boots, tied together by the laces.

Lopez and Stoker exchanged a shrug before leaving the area with Kelly firmly in tow.

After a few minutes, Hank shook his head at his two paramedics. He remembered brushfires that seemed to last for days, time standing still the moment there was a breather. Sometimes, Hank found he slept standing up, snapping awake and alert the moment the tones rang.

Hank set Gage's feet down on the floor, set his boots—untied—on the bench where Gage would see them, made sure DeSoto was secure enough that he wouldn't fall out before he left the locker room. He stopped in his tracks again though when he discovered Kelly, Lopez and Stoker were washing soot off the squad.

Their shift ended quietly and thankfully uneventfully. Hank nodded gruffly as the new shift came walking in for the night watch. Changed and feeling like his bones had stiffened, he stood at the center of the parking lot in the back of the station, taking advantage of the rare moment when he could just stand there and take a good whiff of night air.

Hank stood there, waiting as the rest of his men hustled John and Roy into Chet's station wagon. How those two managed to change out of uniform was beyond him because already, the two were out again the minute they slid into the backseat. Mike gave John an experimental poke and Marco yelped, catching John before he fell out on the other side. Geez.

After a few minutes of them trying to figure out who was driving what and where, Hank cleared his throat and they all looked up expectantly.

"Marco, Mike, get your cars. We'll leave John and Roy's here. I'll ride in Chet's and we'll drop Roy off first."

It didn't matter that their shift was over and Hank was no longer 'Cap' but 'Hank' now. They all responded as if they still had their turnout gear on and not their jeans and shirts. Hank bit back a smirk as he climbed into the shotgun seat in Chet's wagon.

Joanne DeSoto was already waiting by the driveway, probably waiting since Hank had called her at the station. She smoothed back her short hair and nodded as Chet's vehicle eased up to the curb.

"Chet. Hank," Joanne greeted as soon as Hank rolled down his window. She slanted a look to the backseat and chuckled. Roy didn’t even realize he was home. Head tilted back, Roy was sleeping with his hands folded across his stomach behind Chet. John was slumped forward against the back of Hank's seat. He had been quietly snoring into his ear since Carson.

"Wow," Joanne remarked, "that bad?"

"Fifteen runs since 0600," Chet grunted. He patted the top of his steering wheel with both hands like a drum.

"A paramedic's work is never done," Hank offered.

Joanne glanced up as Marco and Mike drove up and got out of their cars. She looked back inside the station wagon at her husband, her smile wider.

"Apparently, neither is a fireman’s, Hank."

Hank nodded at the knowing look and shrugged one shoulder.

"Nah," Chet disagreed, "we were having a slow day. I think we only got called out twice, no, maybe it was three times—"

Joanne laughed and shot Hank a grin. "Never mind, Chet. You boys want to come in? Meatloaf night."

"Thanks, but no, gotta be home soon." Hank nodded behind him. His mouth quirked. "After we drop him off, that is."

John's only response was a soft huff before his head lolled back to rest on the window.

Joanne scoffed. "Look, why don't you just bring him inside too? Roy can drive him back home in the other car after dinner or he'll just take the couch again."

"I don't know. Doesn't feel right to dump him at your doorstep," Hank hedged.

A hand waved towards them.

"The kids will love a chance to see him again and Roy wouldn't mind." Joanne peered into Chet's window. "Isn't that right, Roy?"

Roy yawned, muttered something about needing a spanner and went back to the muffled snoring again.

Joanne giggled even as she shook her head. "Besides, John lives all the way on the third floor and I heard the elevator was out ag—"

"Marco, you and Mike get Johnny, I'll get Roy," Chet called out as he hastily wiggled out of the driver's seat.

Hank shared a smirk with Joanne before she excused herself to sidle up against her husband, who roused enough to give her a sleepy one-arm hug as he stumbled up the steps to his home. Hank waited in the car—captain's privilege, after all—and watched Marco and Mike coax John to take one step after the other, ignoring the drowsy and puzzled "This isn't my apartment" as they steered him through the threshold.

There was a distant chatter of young voices Hank could hear that welcomed Roy when he entered his house, another excited clamor when John followed. Hank snorted but leaned back into his seat. He nodded briefly as his men waved goodbye and trotted down the steps towards the cars.

"They're gonna be surprised when they really wake up," Chet snickered as he climbed back into the driver's seat. "I don't think they know how they got here."

Hank chuckled. "Even more surprised when they find out their cars are still back at the station." He watched Marco and Mike climbed into their cars on the rear mirror and gave them a wave as they pulled away and headed for home.

"Man, this was one crazy shift," Chet complained as he started his car. "They're out all shift and we practically did nothing but heat stew and mop floors and now we're a taxi service! What's next? We gonna…"

Hank let Chet's voice roll over him like background noise, like Big Red's engine. He folded his arms and nodded absently as Chet went on and on. Chet Kelly had a point. Today was nothing more than stew and mops and tucking paramedics safely in bed…or couches.

A smile curved across his face.

Not bad for a day's work. Not bad at all.

The End

To my E! beta: Yes, yes, I know, I had this sitting in my hard drive for months! Actually, there's a bunch that should be coming your way soon. LOL.


( 9 comments — comment )
Oct. 14th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Nice job, Kiddo. It gave me something to think about besides packing. :)
Oct. 14th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Packing. Bleh. Had to do that to make room for my wheelchair and other stuff.
Oct. 14th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
This is major packing -- for a 1100-mile move to Florida. I'm talking paperback books, CDs, DVDs, tapes that need to be converted to DVD (Yankee games, horse races, shows that never made it to DVD, like Midnight Caller, Stoney Burke, The Cape) -- and zines, lots and lots of zines. I'm slowly going out of my mind....
Oct. 15th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Actually, there's a bunch that should be coming your way soon. SQUEEE *goes to check email*
Jul. 20th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Now, now, patience dear grasshopper. :)
Jul. 20th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Patience? I'm not really good at it. *taps finger* *goes to check email* Still empty. *heavy sigh*
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:56 am (UTC)
I started to feel exhausted just reading this. :-D Nicely shows the extreme ebb & flow of the job. Also shows how the guys all care and worry about each other.
Mar. 14th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
Dang. Totally exhausting! Love how they try to deflect attention from themselves to the other when it comes to close calls. Loved Cap roaming the station counting his men to make sure they were all there. :) So many little and real touches that just made this so very satisfying!
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Ooh, loved this! I enjoyed the boys listening to Johnny and Roy's runs and taking care of them by heating up the stew and bread and doing all the little things for their crewmates. I loved the caring you show here! :)

Cap counting heads and happy when all five were around the kitchen table was squeeworthy. :)
( 9 comments — comment )

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