By Enola Jones

I've often been accused of becoming too emotionally involved with my patients. Many of my colleagues will trot that out as my one professional weakness, then they will laughingly dismiss it because I happen to be a woman.

Well, excuse me – but in today's impersonal world, people could use a little emotional involvement! I don't get romantically involved with my patients -- that would be disgusting! But I do care for each little soul under my care as if they were my own.

If that's too emotionally involved, then regulations be hanged.

The worst calls have got to be those that arrive in the dead of night. Any other time – even the ones with the terminal little ones – you have a chance to prepare somewhat. Read the chart, pray a little, find your centre as it were – and come in ready to do battle.

But with the midnight ones, there's no chance in Hades for you to do anything but react. You're blindsided – vulnerable.

When the phone jangled at me, I rolled over and catalogued the time. One AM – lovely. "Hello?"

"D-Doctor Morales?"

Instantly my alarm bells were screaming at me. I knew this smooth voice, and I had never – ever – heard him stammer. "Yes… what's the matter, Mister Standish?"

"There's b-been an accident… please, can you c-come to my townhouse?"

I frowned. "Your T—Mister Standish, there are two problems with that. I don't know the add—" I was cut off by his telling me the address. "And second, I'm a pedia—"

"It's not for me, it's for young Master Tanner!"

I sat right up. "Repeat that address." He did and I scribbled it down. "I'll be right there." I hung up and threw some clothes on.

Eight year old Vin Tanner and his six year old cousin JD had been my patients for a year. Memories assailed me as I gathered my kit and dashed to the car.

"If ya hurt him, I'll kill ya." Odd first time words from a seven year old patient, but nothing about those two were normal. I'd not vaccinated them that visit – just given both of them a checkup, built their trust….

What could have happened? I broke a few speed laws getting there, but I got there. The house was fully lit up and the porch light snapped on as mine snapped off.

"It's Anna Morales," I called out as I got out of the car with my kit. The door opened and I saw Mister Standish sheathing the gun in his waistband.

I wasn't surprised. I'd dealt with these men enough to know these five were very protective of their two littlest ones. "Where is he and what happened?" I asked. "And where is JD?"

"They-They weren't feeling well, he began as he led me toward a bedroom. Perhaps later I'd have a chuckle over his rumpled appearance. For now, I was more worried about the boys. "They stayed here while their fathers went to testify in Wyoming—" He opened the door and turned on the light. "I-I haven't moved him…."

I couldn't' stop the gasp that erupted as I saw him. Vin Tanner lay unmoving at the foot of the little bed, on his stomach. I ran my hand down his arms and legs. "No breaks…" I ran my hands down his spine, wincing as always when I felt that cruel curve.

"I was concerned about spinal injuries," Mister Standish said as I felt Vin's neck.

I shook my head. "Nothing that I can find…" Slowly, I turned him over. He looked like he was sleeping.

I frowned. No visible bruises…nothing that would mark him… "Did you try to wake him?"

Mister Standish shook his head, running a hand through his disheveled hair. "I f-found him and went right to call you." He ran his hands down his face. "Mister Larabee will never tr-trust me again…."

I smiled and tapped Vin's cheek lightly. He opened his eyes blearily and looked at me. "D-Doc? What're you—" he rolled over onto his side and coughed.

"You said they weren't feeling well?" I asked Mister Standish. At his nod, I nodded. "It would seem, when he's sick, our Master Tanner sleeps very soundly." At his puzzled frown, I smiled. "He's fine – he's not injured, at any rate. He just rolled out of bed."

He frowned deeper. He's…not…I-I called you for nothing?"

Vin coughed lightly, and I lifted him up onto the bed. "Not for nothing. Hand me that kit." He did and I examined the little boy. When I finished, I petted the warm little cheek. "You're gonna be okay, little one."

Vin smiled and rolled over on his side. He trusted me. It had taken a lot, but he trusted me. I looked up at Mister Standish. "You said they weren't feeling well."

He nodded. "Yes – young Master Dunne is ill as well." His hands shook as he tucked Vin in. "I truly hate to impose—but as long as you're here--?"

I chuckled. "No, It's no imposition. Show me."

He led me into another room and I checked the littlest one out. "Well, he's going to be all right, too."

Mister Standish tucked JD in and walked with me into the living room. I watched him collapse heavily onto a sofa. "Are you all right?"

He looked up at me. "How are the boys – really?"

I sat down by him, moved by the heartfelt plea. "Mist—Ezra. The boys are going to be fine. The both of them have the stomach virus that's been going around. They should be perfectly all right in a couple of days." I smiled. "I promise."

He studied my face, then he began to smile. "I trust your promise."

"Good. Now – if either of them worsens—"

"I'll have them in your office before they finish sneezing," he assured me.

"Good." I petted his shoulder. "When are their fathers returning?"

He sighed. "Monday. Five days."

I grinned at him. "By then, they'll be as feisty and healthy as normal!"

He nodded. "I doubt there's any sleep left in me tonight."

"After that scare? I doubt it." I stood up. "I'll be lucky to get some rest myself, but I need to try."

He nodded and gallantly walked me to the door. "Good night, Doctor Morales. And thank you."

I drove home, tired but very happy. Yes, I get involved. With dear little angels like Vin and JD?

How can you not?

The End

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