Just when you thought it was safe to go back online... Ruth Longhurst helped with the idea for this chapter.

Thanks to the D.L. Witherspoon for Doctor Cuthbertson. Thanks to TAE, the ever hungry Beta Monster. And thanks to fate for sending me to the state of confusion so my muse could join me on the flight.

I make no money. They don't belong to me.

Chapter 25: One Good Shirt Deserves Another

Detective Jim Ellison turned off his windshield wipers, rolled down the window, and took a deep breath. He loved the scent of the air right after it's rained, especially when combined with early morning fresh air. He was on his way to the station early to relieve Det. McClair so he could spend time with his grandparents who were in town visiting. Nightwatch wasn't one of Jim's favorite duties, but it gave him the chance to experience the unique calm that descends in the morning when even the criminals have gone home to bed and only the paperboy is awake to disturb the peace.

Rounding a corner, Ellison saw something that ruined his peaceful morning. The guard rail at the end of the curve was mangled and the ground was freshly disturbed. The police officer flipped on his lights and pulled over to investigate. It didn't take long for the sentinel to spot the car that had gone off the road and halfway down the embankment.

"Echo 7 to Central," Jim said into the radio after returning to the truck.

"Central, go ahead."

"I've got a single motor vehicle accident on east bound route 11, mile marker 132. Injuries unknown at this time."

"Copy, single MVA, unknown injuries. Will have fire and EMS in route shortly."

Having arranged further assistance, Ellison grabbed the small emergency kit from behind the seat and began to carefully navigate the steep muddy bank down to the vehicle. He could hear the driver moaning at the bottom of the slope. This wasn't necessarily a good thing. A semi-conscious person could easily be combative and, on a steep muddy surface, things could get interesting really quick.

Reaching the car with no trouble, he did his best to evaluate the situation and patient. He quickly found the driver's side door to be either locked or jammed. This was only a minor obstacle for the sentinel. He was able to detect a strong heartbeat and a minimal amount of blood. He pulled out his cell phone to call dispatch, but his phone rang, indicating an incoming call.

Recognizing the phone number he answered it, "Hey, Shawn, can I call you back?"

"Well, I was calling for an update on your MVA, but I guess I can wait to get it from dispatch," replied Captain Shawn Meyer of the Cascade Fire Department.

Ellison looked up towards the road and saw the firefighter standing next to his truck waving. "In that case, the door won't budge. It's either locked or jammed. We're going to have to use one of those fancy pry tools of yours to get it open. There's just the driver, no passengers. He's semi-conscious, but I think he's stable."

"What about the car?" Shawn asked. "How secure is it?"

The detective slipped a bit and shifted his footing in an attempt to get a more stable position. "It's kind of slick down here and the car isn't wedged against anything."

"Copy that. Do you have any rope or gear in your truck?"

Jim swore softly as he tried once again to get a better grip on the muddy ground. He hadn't thought about tying off a rope before heading down the embankment. Looking back up the hill, it would have been a good idea. "Yeah, there's some behind the seat," he answered, ignoring the soft chuckle from above.

It wasn't long before Jim saw Shawn descending with the aid of his rope.

Instead of joining Ellison on the driver's side, the firefighter went past the car to better survey the situation. He then climbed back up to the car and tried the passenger side door. It too was jammed or locked. He rapped on the window and shouted to the driver, "Hey, can you hear me!? I'm with the fire department! Just relax and we'll have you out of here before you know it!"

The patient only stirred slightly.

"Um, Shawn," Jim began as Shawn made his way around to the driver's side of the car, "this may be a stupid question, but don't you have your own equipment on the big red truck?"

"Engine. It's called an Engine, Jim," the firefighter explained as he moved over to the driver's side, "and yes we have lots of equipment on it. The problem is I came POV since the accident scene was on my way to the station. If the siren is any indication, the crew should be along shortly."

True to his word, the engine arrived on scene as Shawn helped Jim secure himself to the rope.

It wasn't long before Shawn had transferred to the fire department's equipment and Jim was relegated to watching from the road. Capt. Meyers quickly updated the crew and began to give orders. The car was securely anchored to the engine, allowing the men to force open the doors and gain access to the patient.

With perfect timing, the ambulance arrived just as the doors were opened. They wasted no time in treating the driver and preparing him for first transport up to the road and then to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Jim made himself useful by calling the license and registration information into dispatch and beginning the process of identifying the driver and notifying the emergency contacts. The driver turned out to be a Rainier student on his way back from spring break. He had probably tried to drive all night.

As the emergency personnel began packing up the patient and the scene, Ellison and Meyers compared notes for their respective reports.

"At least you waited for us to show up, unlike a few of your fellow officers," Shawn commented when Jim described first finding the car.

"Are you kidding? The entire police department got an ass chewing the last time. I'm not that crazy," Jim stated as he absent-mindedly tried to wipe some mud from his shirt.

Shawn laughed at the image that came to mind. The police and fire chiefs were golf buddies, so the two departments tried to get along and work together. The firefighter laughed again as Jim fussed with his muddy shirt. "Well you were crazy enough to go down that hill with no gear and it looks like this little pig got a little muddy."

Jim made a face as he tried in vain to wipe the mud from his clothes. He waited quietly while his friend walked back to his car, fished in the back seat for something and came back carrying a red bundle of cloth.

"Here," Shawn said as he held the clean shirt out to his friend. "I got a bunch of these for the gang while I was on vacation. It looks like you could use one."

Ellison gingerly took the shirt as if he expected it to bite him. He unfolded it to see a Maltese cross on the front and the letters FDNY on the back. "Thanks man," he said, shaking hands with his friend.

The detective quickly changed shirts, drafted a uniform officer to wait for the tow truck and he and Shawn cleared the scene.


Captain Shawn Meyers wondered if there was a full moon or some other curse on the day. They had been running calls all day. He currently was sitting in the ER after having to ride with the paramedics with their latest patient to the hospital. This one wasn't as lucky as the first guy this morning. They had needed to cut the car apart and the entire scene was a bloody mess. They were probably going to have to pull out spare bunker gear while they washed the current set.

His duty shirt hadn't faired much better. One of the nurses was currently trying to find him some spare scrubs to change into. Apparently all the spares that they kept around for just such an occasion had already been used.

"Didn't I kick you out of here earlier today?" a voice asked.

Shawn looked up to see Dr. Amanda Cuthbertson standing in front of him. "You know me, Doc, I'm just a glutton for punishment," he answered.

"I figured as much the first time I met you," the doctor teased, "and any doubt that was left vanished after hearing about your little adventure with Ellison this morning." Seeing the firefighter only shrug she continued, "I guess I'm getting soft on you gluttons. I heard about your current dilemma and thought I'd take pity on you." Matching actions to words, she brought her arms from behind her back and held out a gray sweatshirt towards Shawn.

He gingerly took the shirt as if it were going to bite him. Seeing the letters ARMY on the front he got the feeling that the rest of the shift would be quiet and peaceful.

Chapter 24

Chapter 26


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